Changes planned for Dutch election system: report

Netherlands polling voting elections
A person casts their election ballot in front of the Dutch flagimage: vepar5 / DepositPhotos

Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations plans to make changes to the ways the Netherlands elects members of both the Eerste Kamer and Tweede Kamer. She wants to introduce a new electoral system in which preference votes on candidates are given more weight, NRC and Volkskrant report  based on sources around the government.

Ollongren plans to adopt some of the recommendations made by the Remkes state committee, which, led by Johan Remkes, investigated the functioning of the parliamentary system and concluded in December that many Dutch people feel that their opinions on modernizing democracy do not matter. The committee made a total of 83 recommendations.

One of the recommendations Ollongren plans to adopt, is making it possible for voters to be able to vote for a party instead of for a specific person. She also wants to make it more difficult to participate in elections for the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, by increasing the deposit and number of support declarations required from 580 to 1,200. By giving preference votes more weight, a candidate will need fewer votes to get into the Kamer. The Minister believes that this will result in voters also supporting more regional candidates. 

The government supports these ideas and will investigate what such a system will look like in the coming period, NRC writes.

Ollongren also plans to change the elections for the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate. But at least one of these changes are against the advice of the Remkes committee, according to the Volkskrant. She wants to replace half of the 75 senators every three years, instead of all 75 every four years. The Minister believes that this will create more "peace and stability". To achieve this, a constitutional amendment will be needed.

The Minister and the committee also want to make it easier to change the constitution. Currently a change must be handled and approved by both the Eerste and Tweede Kamer, a process that can take years. The Remkes Committee proposed to let both Kamers decide on constitutional changes in one joint meeting. The requirement that a change needs at least the support of a two-third majority remains in place.