States-General of the Netherlands
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The States-General (Staten-Generaal) are the parliament of the Netherlands. It consists of two chambers, the most important of which is the directly elected Tweede Kamer (literally "Second Chamber", the lower house). The Eerste Kamer ("First Chamber", upper house, also known as Senate, Dutch Senaat) is elected indirectly by members of provincial legislatives. The meeting rooms of the Staten-Generaal are located at the Binnenhof (Inner Court) in The Hague.
The States-General meets at least once every year at the opening of the parliamentary year, when the Queen holds her Speech from the Throne on the Day of the Little Princes. On special occasions for instance when the States-General vote on a marriage of a member of the royal house, when a King is crowned or when a member of the royal house dies both houses meet as in a joined session (Dutch: Verenigde Vergadering). The chair of the Eerste Kamer precides these meetings. It meets in the Ridderzaal on the Binnenhof, except for the coronation which occurs in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.
Constitutionally all functions of the parliament are given to both houses, except for the right of initiative and amendment. In practice the Tweede Kamer has these functions, as the Eerste Kamer meets only one day a week. The Joined Session also appoints the Queen if there is no heir to the Throne and the Regent is unable to exert her powers.
Historically the convocation of the States-General consisted of delegates from the provincial States, and dated from about the middle of the 15th century, under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy. The first meeting was on January 9, 1464 in Bruges in Flanders at the behest of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. Later, regular meetings were held in Brussels (Brabant). After the abjuration of the king in 1581 and the separation of the northern Netherlands from the Spanish dominions, the States-General became the supreme authority of the United Netherlands. The representatives, now in The Hague (Holland), were elected by the seven sovereign provincial estates for the general government of the United Provinces. The States-General, in which the voting was by province – each of the seven provinces having one vote, as in the European Union today – were established from 1593. The so-called Generality Lands were under direct rule of the Generality (and as such had no vote in the States-General). Also the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company were under its general supervision; Staten Island in New York City (originally New Amsterdam), for example, is named after the Staten-Generaal.
The Southern Netherlands kept their own States-General in Brussels.
Both States-General in The Hague and Brussels came to an end after 1795, in the South with the French annexation, in the North with the proclamation of the Batavian Republic and the subsequent convocation of the National Assembly (March 1, 1796). The title of Staten-Generaal, however, continued in the title of subsequent Netherlands parliaments, that were reconstituted in 1815, after the Napoleontic rule.
Based on the original text from 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica