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The States-General (Staten-Generaal) is the parliament of the Netherlandsmarker. It consists of two chambers, the more important of which is the directly elected House of Representativesmarker (in Dutch, Tweede Kamer, Second Chamber, the lower house). The Senate (in Dutch, Eerste Kamer, First Chamber, or Senaat, the upper house) is elected indirectly by members of provincial legislatures. The meeting rooms of the Staten-Generaal are at the Binnenhofmarker (Inner Court) in The Haguemarker.


The States-General meets in joint session at least once every year at the opening of the parliamentary year, when the queen gives her Speech from the Throne on the Day of the Princelings. On special occasions, such as when the States-General vote on a marriage of a member of the royal house, when a king is crowned or when a member of the royal house dies, both houses also meet in a joint session (Dutch: Verenigde Vergadering). The chair of the Senate presides over these meetings. They take place in the Ridderzaalmarker (Knight's Hall) on the Binnenhof, except for the coronation which occurs in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdammarker. The rest of the time, the two chambers hold meetings separately.

Constitutionally all functions of the parliament are given to both houses, except for the rights of initiative and amendment. In practice the House of Representatives has these functions, as the Senate meets only one day a week. The Joint Session also appoints the monarch if there is no heir to the throne and the regent is unable to exercise his or her powers.

An important question is whether the relationship between the cabinet and parliament should be dualistic or monistic. That is, whether ministers and leaders of governing parliamentary parties should prepare important political decisions. According to the dualistic position, members of parliament of governing parties should function independent of their cabinet. The term monism is used to refer to a stance that important decisions should be prepared by the members of the governing coalition in order to promote political stability.


Historically the convocation of the States-General consisted of delegates from the States-Provincial, and dated from about the middle of the 15th century, under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy. The first meeting was on January 9, 1464, in Brugesmarker in Flanders at the behest of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. Later, regular meetings were held at Coudenbergmarker, Brusselsmarker (Brabant). After the abjuration of the king in 1581 and the separation of the northern Netherlands from the Spanish dominions, the States-General replaced the king as the supreme authority and national central government of the northern Netherlands, now known as the United Netherlands (with regional government taken on by the States Provincial). The representatives, now in The Hague (Holland), were elected by the seven sovereign provincial estates for the general government of the United Provinces. The States-General, in which the voting was by province – each of the seven provinces having one vote, as in the European Union today – were established from 1593. 20% of the new Republic's territory, the so-called Generality Lands, was not assigned to any provincial council and so was under the direct rule of the Generality (generaliteit) - as such, this territory had no vote in the States-General. Also the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company were under its general supervision; Staten Islandmarker in New York Citymarker (originally New Amsterdam) and Staten Island, Argentinamarker (Discovered by Dutchman Jacob le Maire), for example, are named after the Staten-Generaal.

The Southern Netherlands kept their own States-General in Brussels.

Both States-General in The Hague and Brussels came to an end after 1795, in the South with the French annexation, in the North with the proclamation of the Batavian Republic and the subsequent convocation of the National Assembly (March 1, 1796). The title of Staten-Generaal, however, continued in the title of subsequent Dutch parliaments, that were reconstituted in 1814, after the Napoleonic rule: until 1815 one chamber, since then two.

They were defunct from 1940 - 1945, during the German occupation.


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