Constitution of the Netherlands
Learn more about Constitution of the Netherlands
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The first constitution of the Netherlands is the 1579 constitution, which established the federal republic of the Seven United Provinces. The constitution was empowered by the Union of Utrecht. In 1798 a new constitution established the Batavian Republic, a unitary republic. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was established in 1814. In 1815 first version of the current constitution established the Netherlands as a kingdom.
The constitution as it was revised in 1848 is generally considered the original of the version still in force today. Under pressure from revolutions in surrounding countries, King William II accepted the introduction of ministerial responsibility in the constitution. A commission chaired by Johan Thorbecke was appointed to draft the new constitution.
In 1917 universal suffrage was adopted in the constitution. The last large revision of the constitution occurred in 1983, when social rights were included in the constitution. The last, minor, changes were made in 2002
Chapter 1 (Basic rights) deals with issues such as equality (article 1), the right to vote, freedom of religion, freedom of education (article 23), freedom of speech, freedom to meet and protest and the right to privacy.
- Basic rights
- King and ministers
- Formation and structure
- Advisory institutions (State Council, General Audit-Office, National Ombudsman and permanent Committees of Advice)
- Law and administration
- Laws and other regulations
- Other provisions
- Administration of justice
- Lower government (provinces, municipalities, polders in charge of a polder board, and other public bodies)
- Revision of the constitution
There used to be several additional articles with Roman numbering, however all except articles IX and XIX are now abrogated.
 Statute of the Kingdom
The Kingdom of the Netherlands comprises the Kingdom in Europe, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Where the Dutch constitution is only applicable to the European part of the kingdom, the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is actually the constitution of the entire Kingdom, valid for all territories.
 Constitution vs. other laws
Dutch judges may not test the validity of other laws against the constitution. As a consequence, the Netherlands does not have a Constitutional Court. The reasoning for this is that changes to the law should be made by politicians, since they have a mandate from the people.
International treaties on the other hand may overrule Dutch law, even the constitution, and judges are allowed in most cases to test laws against them.
 Amending the constitution
To amend the constitution, the proposed changes must first be approved by both the Lower and the Upper house of the States-General with a common majority of 50% + one vote. Then parliament must be dissolved and general elections held. After that the proposed changes to the constitution are discussed a second time in both houses of parliament, this time needing a two-thirds majority to approve them. This is intended to give voters a say in the matter.
 Full text
- English PDF version (as of 2002) from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations
- Dutch version on Wikisource
- http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/nl__indx.html - 1989 and 1972 versions (English)fr:Loi fondamentale du Royaume des Pays-Bas