Voter reforms to give public more influence in Parliament; Stronger youth voice

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 submitted her proposal to change the Dutch electoral system to Parliament on Wednesday. Changes include giving young people more influence, making it possible for voters to vote on specific candidates instead of only entire parties, and giving the Senate the power to propose amendments on bills. These changes were proposed based on advice from the State Committee on the Parliamentary System.

"Cabinet decisions have a major impact on the future of young people. The voice of young people should be heard more and count more," Ollongren said. "And not only about topics that are now directly affecting young people, but also about decisions that are made in the field of pensions or the labor market, Things that seem far away to young people, but have a major impact on their future."

Ollongren therefore wants the age limit for supporting citizens' initiatives to be lowered to 16 years. This will give 16- and 17-year-olds the opportunity to put things they care about on the agenda of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. 

The Minister also wants to make it possible for voters to vote either for a party, and therefore its entire list of candidates, or for one candidate in particular. According to her, this will result in candidates with lots of voter support being elected more quickly based on the preference votes they receive. "By giving the voter the opportunity to vote for a party or a candidate, he or she will have more influence on who gets to the Tweede Kamer, for example," she said.

Finally, the government wants to give the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, the option to propose amendments on bills to the Tweede Kamer. Currently the Eerste Kamer can only reject or approve bills. By adding this option, the Senate will have an "effective, fast and transparent way to communicate its objections to a bill to the Tweede Kamer", according to Ollongren.