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The House of Representatives (in Dutch: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal ( , literally "Second Chamber of the States-General"), short Tweede Kamer), is the lower house of the Netherlands' parliament, the States-General. It has 150 seats which are filled through elections using a party-list proportional representation. It sits in The Haguemarker.


The House of Representatives is the main chamber of parliament, where discussion of proposed legislation and review of the actions of the cabinet takes place. Both the Cabinet and the House of Representatives itself have the right to propose legislation; the House of Representatives discusses it and, if adopted by a majority, sends it on to the Senate (Eerste Kamer).

Review of the actions of the cabinet takes the form of formal interrogations, which may result in motions urging the cabinet to take, or refrain from, certain actions. No individual may be a member of both parliament and cabinet, except in a caretaker cabinet that has not yet been succeeded when a new House is sworn in.

The House of Representatives is also responsible for the first round of selection for judges to the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden). It submits a list of three names for every vacant position to the Government.

Furthermore, it elects the Dutch Ombudsman and his subsidiaries.


The maximum term of the House of Representatives is four years. Anybody eligible to vote in the Netherlands also has the right to establish a political party and contest elections for the House of Representatives (see political parties of the Netherlands). Elections are called when the government loses parliament's confidence, the governing coalition breaks down, the term of the House of Representatives expires or when no governing coalition can be formed.

Parties wanting to take part must register 43 days before the elections, supplying a nationwide list of at least 30 candidates. Parties that do not have any sitting candidates in the House of Representatives must also pay a deposit (11,250 euro for the November 2006 elections, for all districts together) and provide 30 signatures of support from residents of each of the 19 electoral districts in which they want to collect votes. The candidate lists are placed in the hands of the voters at least 14 days before the election. Two or more parties can agree to combine their separate lists (this is known as a 'list combination' or lijstencombinatie), which increases the chance of winning a remainder seat. Each candidate list is numbered, with the person in the first position known as the lijsttrekker (top candidate). The lijsttrekker is usually appointed by the party to lead its election campaign. The lijsttrekker of the party receiving the most seats will often become the Prime Minister. Parties may choose to compete with different candidate lists in each of the 19 electoral districts, but as seats are allocated on national rather than district level, most parties have almost identical lists in all districts with candidates running nationwide. Only large parties usually have some regional candidates at the bottom of their lists.

Citizens of the Netherlands aged 18 or over have the right to vote; exceptions are: 1) prisoners serving a term of more than one year are excluded; 2) those who have been declared incapable by court because of insanity are also excluded. A single vote can be placed on any one candidate. Many voters select one of the lijsttrekkers (Jan Peter Balkenende, for example, received 2,198,114 of the CDA's 2,608,573 votes in the November 2006 elections), but alternatively a preference vote may be made for a candidate lower down the list.

Once the election results are known, the seats are allocated to the parties. The number of valid national votes cast is divided by 150, the number of seats available, to give a threshold for each seat (the kiesdeler). Each party's number of votes is divided by this threshold to give an initial number of seats. Any party that received fewer votes than the threshold (i.e., less than one in 150 of the total votes cast) fails to gain representation in the House of Representatives, thus the threshold is always at 0.67% of the total number of valid national votes. This is one of the lowest thresholds for national parliament elections in the world. In 1977, for instance, one party gained a seat despite winning only 0.77% of the vote. Any party that received more than 75% of the threshold will have its deposit refunded.

After the initial seats are allocated, the remainder seats are allocated using the D'Hondt method of largest averages. This system favours the larger parties. List combinations compete for the remainder seats as one list of the combined size of all parties in the combination, thus having more chance to gain remainder seats. Afterwards, the seats are allocated to the parties within the list combination using the largest remainder method.

Once the number of seats allocated to each party is known, in general they are allocated to candidates in the order that they appear on the party's list. (Hence, before the elections, the candidates near the top may be described as in an electable position, depending on the number of seats that the party is likely to obtain.) At this stage, however, the preference votes are also taken into account. Any candidate receiving more than one quarter of the threshold on personal preference votes (the 'preference threshold' or voorkeursdrempel, 0.1675% of the total number of valid votes), is considered elected in their own right, leapfrogging candidates higher on the list. In the November 2006 elections, only one candidate received a seat exclusively through preference votes, while 26 other candidates reaching the preference threshold were already elected based on their position on the list. If a candidate cannot take up the position in parliament (e.g., if they become a minister, decide not to enter parliament, or later resign) then the next candidate on the list takes their place.

After all seats are allocated a government is formed, usually based on a majority of the seats. The monarch appoints an informateur, who checks out possible coalitions, and formateur, who leads formation negotiations. At the end of the negotiations, the formateur becomes prime minister. Although the formateur is usually from the largest party in parliament, his nomination can be seen as one of the greatest powers the monarch holds in Dutch politics. All cabinet members must resign from parliament, as the constitution does not allow a cabinet member to hold a seat in the House of Representatives.

Since the current party-list proportional representation system was introduced in 1918, no party has even approached the number of seats necessary for an outright majority. Between 1891 and 1897, the Liberal Union was the last party to have an absolute majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. All Dutch governments since 1918 have been coalitions of two or more parties.

Current situation

Party Fractievoorzitter Seats
Christian Democratic Appeal Pieter van Geel 41
Dutch Labour Party Mariƫtte Hamer 33
Socialist Party Agnes Kant 25
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy Mark Rutte 21
Party for Freedom Geert Wilders 9
GreenLeft Femke Halsema 7
ChristianUnion Arie Slob 6
Democrats 66 Alexander Pechtold 3
Reformed Political Party Bas van der Vlies 2
Party for Animals Marianne Thieme 2
Proud of the Netherlands Rita Verdonk 1

President of the House of Representatives Party
Gerdi Verbeet Dutch Labour Party

Main article: List of members of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands

Previous situation

Elections were held on 22 January 2003 after the resignation of the first Balkenende cabinet. The PvdA's lijsttrekker, Wouter Bos, declared that he would not become Prime Minister if his party lost: the party's candidate was not announced until a few days before the election - Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdammarker, who did not take part in the campaign. The negotiations following the election were lengthy and resulted in a coalition of CDA, VVD and D66 and the second Balkenende cabinet.

The other parties contesting the elections were: Partij voor de Dieren (47,754), Leefbaar Nederland (38,894), Partij van de Toekomst (13,845), (9,045), Duurzaam Nederland (7,271), Nieuwe Communistische Partij-NCPN (4,854), de (2,521), Vooruitstrevende Integratie Partij (1,623), Alliantie voor Vernieuwing en Democratie (990) and Lijst Veldhoen (296). All of these parties lost their deposit, except for LN which, as a sitting party, had not had to pay it.

The total number of votes cast was 9,654,475, giving a threshold required for a seat of 64,363.167. GL and the SP combined their lists for the calculations, as did the CU and the SGP. The two candidates obtaining seats only because of preference votes were H.P.A. Nawijn (LPF) (21,209) and J.C. Huizinga-Heringa (CU) (19,650).


The Socialistische Partij lost one seat in February 2004 when it expelled Ali Lazrak. Lazrak decided to continue as a one-man party.

In August 2004 the entire LPF parliamentary party resigned, due to internal politics. They remained as an independent parliamentary party, continuing to use the name LPF.

On 2 September 2004 the VVD also lost a seat when Geert Wilders left the parliamentary party. He too decided to continue as a one-man party.In 2005, Hilbrand Nawijn, former Minister without Portfolio for Immigration and Integration in the first Balkenende Cabinet, departed from the LPF to become the third one-man-party in the House.On 7 June 2006, Gonny van Oudenallen was installed as successor of Margot Kraneveldt, who retired from parliament and moved to the PvdA. Although on the LPF list for the 2003 elections, Oudenallen sat as a one-woman party.On 16 August 2006, LPF party leader Gerard van As stepped over to Hilbrand Nawijn's party.On 6 September 2006, Anton van Schijndel was removed from the VVD parliamentary party. He became part of a two-member parliamentary party with Joost Eerdmans, who was removed from the LPF on 20 September 2006.

The new president of the House of Representatives was elected on 6 December 2006. The winner was Gerdi Verbeet. The previous president (2002-2006) was Frans Weisglas, who retired on 29 November 2006.

Historical periods

representation per party 1946-

To give an overview of the history of the House of Representatives, the figure on the right shows the seat distribution in the House from the first general elections after WWII (1946) to the current situation. Until 1956, there were 100 seats. This was expanded to 150 seats, which is the current number.

The left-wing parties are towards the bottom, the Christian parties in the centre, with the right-wing parties towards the top. Occasionally, single-issue (or narrow-focus) parties have arisen, and these are shown at the extreme top.

Vertical lines indicate general elections. Although these are generally held every four years, the resulting coalition governments do not always finish their term without a government crisis, which is often followed by fresh elections. Hence the frequent periods shorter than four years.

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