Netherlands Government and Politics

According to, the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. It also includes the country’s only remaining overseas territories, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. The Constitution in force in the European Netherlands was introduced in 1814, but has since been revised several times.

Dutch governance is democratic. The political authority springs from a national assembly, the State General. The government, headed by a prime minister, is based on and is accountable to the National Assembly. It consists of two chambers. The First Chamber (Eerste Kamer) has 75 representatives, who are elected by the provincial councils for four years. Annetkammeret (Second Chamber)has 150 representatives. They are elected in direct relationship choices for four years. The whole country is one constituency. The second chamber is the most important chamber. Bills must be passed in or out of this chamber; the first chamber can only accept or reject the decision of the second chamber. Both chambers can assert parliamentary responsibilities towards the government; the government can dissolve both chambers.

Netherlands Country Flag

Reference: Netherlands Flag Meaning

A special body in the Netherlands is the Council of State. It is headed by the monarch, who is formally also the one who appoints the council members. The Council has (limited) advisory duties in legislative matters and is the highest appellate body in administrative disputes. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of NL and its meanings of Netherlands.

Traditionally, the party system has reflected religious and social divides. There were separate religious parties for Protestants (Calvinists) and Catholics. The secular side was split socially, so that the liberals appealed to the middle class and the working party to the working class. The religious parties merged into one Christian Democratic Party, the CDA, in 1980. Other important parties are the Labor Party PvdA, the Liberal Conservative Party VVD and the centrist Democrat 66 (D66). Mark Rutte (VVD) became prime minister in 2010, and has since 2012 led a coalition consisting of the VVD and the PvdA.

Administrative division

The Netherlands is a unitary state, made up of twelve provinces. In each province there is a provincial council, elected for four years by direct proportional elections, an executive committee of six members, elected by and among the council members, and a government-appointed commissioner. The Commissioner chairs the Council and Executive Committee. Under the regions there are municipalities with elected municipal councils and a government-appointed mayor. Mergers of municipalities mean that the number of municipalities has decreased. In 2000 there were 537 municipalities, in 2016 it was 390.


Most current law books are strongly influenced by French law. The court system is common to civil and criminal cases. The participation of laymen (jury) in ordinary cases is unknown. The judges are appointed by the government, and Supreme Court judges are elected on a proposal from Parliament’s second chamber. They sit to the age limit and can only be dismissed after judgment.

The Supreme Court (Hoge Raad), which has its seat in The Hague, consists of 15 judges. In addition to being the supreme court of appeal, the Supreme Court has exercised judicial authority in the service of members of parliament and government as well as certain other senior civil servants. Incidentally, there are appeals courts, district courts and district courts.

In the Netherlands, the courts cannot test whether laws contravene the Constitution, but the legality of ordinary administrative decisions is subject to judicial review, partly in the ordinary courts and partly in various administrative special courts. It has its own military jurisdiction for members of the armed forces, with a special military supreme court in The Hague.

List of heads of state in the Netherlands

List of heads of state in the Netherlands is a list of Dutch regents from 1430 to the present.

Reigning dukes

Year Regent
1430-1467 Philip 3 the good-natured
1467-1477 Karl the bold
1477-1482 Mary the rich
1482-1506 Filip 4 the beautiful
1506-1455 Karl 2 (from 1519 Emperor Karl 5)
1555 – about 1575 Filip 3 (Filip 2 of Spain)


Year Regent
1572-1584 William 1 the silent (of Orange)
Frisisk line
1584-1620 William Ludvig of Nassau
1620-1632 Ernst Casimir of Nassau
1632-1640 Henry 1 Casimir of Nassau
1640-1664 William Frederick of Nassau
1664-1696 Henry 2 Casimir of Nassau
1696-1711 Johan Vilhelm Friso of Orange – Nassau
1711-1751 William 4 of Orange – Nassau
Dutch line
1585-1625 Maurits of Nassau
1625-1647 Fredrik Henrik of Orange
1647-1650 William 2 of Orange
1650-1672 Period without a governor
1672-1702 William 3 of Orange
1702-1747 Period without a governor
1747-1751 William 4 of Orange – Nassau
1751-1795 William 5 of Orange – Nassau

Under French rule

Year Government
1795-1806 The Batavian Republic (Five-Man Government)
1806-1810 Kingdom of the Netherlands (Louis Napoleon)
1810-1814 under French administration

Regents (House of Orange-Nassau)

Year Regent
1813-1840 William 1
1840-1849 William 2
1849-1890 William 3
1890-1948 Vilhelmina
1948-1980 Juliana Louise Wilhelmina
1980-2013 Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard
2013- Willem-Alexander

List of prime ministers in the Netherlands

Period Prime minister
1918-1925 Charles Ruys de Beerenbrouck
1925-1926 Hendrikus Colijn
1926-1929 Dirk Jan de Geer
1929-1933 Charles Ruys de Beerenbrouck
1933-1939 Hendrikus Colijn
1939-1940 Dirk Jan de Geer
1940-1945 Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy
1945-1946 Willem Schermerhorn
1946-1948 Louis Beel
1948-1958 Willem Drees
1958-1959 Louis Beel
1959-1963 Jan de Quay
1963-1965 Victor Marijnen
1965-1966 Joseph M. Cals
1966-1967 Jelle Zijlstra
1967-1971 Petrus de Jong
1971-1973 Barend Biesheuvel
1973-1977 Joop the Uyl
1977-1982 Andries van Eight
1982-1994 Ruud Lubbers
1994-2002 Wim Kok
2002-2010 Jan Peter Balkenende
2010- Mark Rutte

Netherlands Head of Government

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