Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Chapter 3 The States General
§ 1. Organisation and composition
Article 50 States General represent all Dutch citizens
The States General shall represent the entire people of the Netherlands.
Article 51 Lower and Upper House
- 1. The States General shall consist of a
Lower House (Tweede Kamer) and an Upper House (Eerste Kamer).
- 2. The Lower House shall consist of one hundred
and fifty members.
- 3. The Upper House shall consist of seventy-five
- 4. The two Houses shall be deemed a single
entity when they meet in joint session.
Article 52 Session time
- 1. The duration of both Houses shall be four
- 2. The duration of the Upper House shall
be amended accordingly if the duration of the provincial councils (provinciale
staten) is altered by Act of Parliament to a term other than four years.
Article 53 Election by proportional representation
- 1. The members of both Houses shall be elected
by proportional representation within the limits to be laid down by Act
- 2. Elections shall be by secret ballot.
Article 54 Election of the members of the Lower House
- 1. The members of the Lower House shall be
elected directly by Dutch nationals who have attained the age of eighteen,
with the exception of any Dutch nationals who may be excluded by Act of
Parliament by virtue of the fact that they are not resident in the Netherlands.
- 2. Anyone who has committed an offence designated
by Act of Parliament and has been sentenced as a result by a final and
conclusive judgment of a court of law to a custodial sentence of not less
than one year and simultaneously disqualified from voting shall not be
entitled to vote.
Article 55 Election of the members of the Upper House
The members of the Upper House shall be chosen by the members of the provincial
councils. The election shall take place not more than three months after
the election of the members of the provincial councils except in the event
of the dissolution of the House.
Article 56 Eligibility
To be eligible for membership of the States General, a person must be
a Dutch national, must have attained the age of eighteen years and must
not have been disqualified from voting.
Article 57 Limitation of other public functions and positions
- 1. No one may be a member of both Houses.
- 2. A member of the States General may not
be a Minister, State Secretary, member of the Council of State, member
of the Court of Audit (Algemene Rekenkamer), National Ombudsman or Deputy
Ombudsman, member of the Supreme Court, or Procurator General or Advocate
General at the Supreme Court.
- 3. Notwithstanding the above, a Minister
or State Secretary who has offered to tender his resignation may combine
the said office with membership of the States General until such time
as a decision is taken on such resignation.
- 4. Other public functions which may not be
held simultaneously by a person who is a member of the States General
or of one of the Houses may be designated by Act of Parliament.
Article 57a Temporary replacement of a member of the States General
The temporary replacement of a member of the States General during pregnancy
and maternity leave or during illness shall be regulated by Act of Parliament.
Article 58 Credentials of newly appointed members
Each House shall examine the credentials of its newly appointed members
and shall decide with due reference to rules to be established by Act
of Parliament any disputes arising in connection with the credentials
or the election.
Article 59 Right to vote and to elections
All other matters pertaining to the right to vote and to elections shall
be regulated by Act of Parliament.
Article 60 Oath or affirmation
Upon accepting office members of the Houses shall swear an oath or make
an affirmation and promise before the House in the manner prescribed by
Act of Parliament that they have not done anything which may legally debar
them from holding office, and shall also swear or promise allegiance to
the Constitution and that they will faithfully discharge their duties.
Article 61 Speaker and Clerk of the House
- 1. Each House shall appoint a Speaker from
among its members.
- 2. Each House shall appoint a Clerk who,
like the other officials of the two Houses, may not be a member of the
Article 62 Speaker of the Houses in joint session
The Speaker of the Upper House shall preside when the two Houses meet
in joint session.
Article 63 Remuneration for members and former members
Financial remuneration for members and former members of the States General
and their dependants shall be regulated by Act of Parliament. The Houses
may pass a Bill on the matter only if at least two-thirds of the votes
cast are in favour.
Article 64 Dissolution of the Lower and Upper House in session
- 1. Each of the Houses may be dissolved by
- 2. A decree for dissolution shall also require
new elections to be held for the House which has been dissolved and the
newly elected House to meet within three months.
- 3. The dissolution shall take effect on the
day on which the newly elected House meets.
- 4. The duration of a Lower House that meets
following a dissolution shall be determined by Act of Parliament; the
term may not exceed five years. The duration of an Upper House that meets
following a dissolution shall end at the time at which the duration of
the dissolved House would have ended.
§ 2. Procedure
Article 65 Announcement of the to be pursued policy
A statement of the policy to be pursued by the Government shall be given
by or on behalf of the King before a joint session of the two Houses of
the States General that shall be held every year on the third Tuesday
in September or on such earlier date as may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.
Article 66 Sittings of Parliament
- 1. The sittings of the States General shall
be held in public.
- 2. The sittings shall be held in camera if
one tenth of the members present so require or if the Speaker considers
- 3. The House, or the two Houses meeting in
joint session, shall then decide whether the deliberations are to continue
and the decisions to be taken in camera.
Article 67 Quorum and voting in Parliament
- 1. The two Houses may deliberate or take
decisions, either separately or in joint session, only if more than half
of the members are present.
- 2. Decisions shall be taken by majority.
- 3. The members shall not be bound by a mandate
or instructions when casting their votes.
- 4. Voting on items of business not relating
to individuals shall be oral and by roll call if requested by one member.
Article 68 Duty of the Cabinet (Ministers) to inform Parliament
Ministers and State Secretaries shall provide, orally or in writing, the
Houses either separately or in joint session with any information requested
by one or more members, provided that the provision of such information
does not conflict with the interests of the State.
Article 69 Right of Ministers and State Secretaries to attend sittings
- 1. Ministers and State Secretaries shall
have the right to attend sittings of the States General and may take part
in the deliberations.
- 2. They may be invited to be present at sittings
of the Houses of the States General meeting either separately or in joint
- 3. They may be assisted at the sittings by
persons nominated by them.
Article 70 Right of inquiry
The two Houses shall jointly and separately have the right of inquiry
(enquête) to be regulated by Act of Parliament.
Article 71 Invulnerability
Members of the States General, Ministers, State Secretaries and other
persons taking part in deliberations may not be prosecuted or otherwise
held liable in law for anything they say during the sittings of the States
General or of its committees or for anything they submit to them in writing.
Article 72 Rules of procedure of Parliament
Each House of the States General and the two Houses in joint session shall
draw up rules of procedure.