Today, 15 March 2017, the Dutch vote in parliamentary elections to elect all 150 members of the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).
In the wake of Donald Trump‘s victory in the USA and the Brexit vote, the polls have long predicted that the anti-EU and anti-migrant Geert Wilders’ populist Party for Freedom (PVV) might win the general vote, yet the latest results see the race to be neck and neck with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by the current Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.
Naturally, the winner won’t take it all, and the election will be followed by a long drawn-out coalition process to form a functioning government and Tweede Kamer.
The Tweede Kamer, literally the ‘Second Chamber,’ is the lower house of the Parliament of the Netherlands, the other one being the Senate.
The newly-elected 150 members of the Second Chamber, the so-called Tweede Kamerlid, will sit in the main chamber of the Dutch parliament to propose and discuss legislation, to be approved or rejected, without the right of amendment, by the Senate (Dutch: Eerste Kamer, or First Chamber).
While the Dutch Staten Generaal (States General) dates back to 1464, convened for the first time by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy (Philip the Good), it was divided into a Senate and a House of Representatives in only 1815, with the establishment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and by an amendment to the Dutch Constitution.
Since 1918, the members of the Tweede Kamer are elected for four years using party-list proportional representation, while the 75 members of the Senate – for the same period, but by the States-Provincial, the provincial parliament and legislative assembly in each of the provinces of the Netherlands.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term Tweede Kamer was first recorded in print in the English language in only 1925, in an August Netherlands Indies review by the British Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands East Indies, reporting on: “A motion in the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal”. The motion referred to the Dutch General elections – held on 1 July 1925 – when the General League of Roman Catholic Caucuses remained the largest party in the House of Representatives, winning 30% of the seats.
And today, nearly a century later, a new motion in the Tweede Kamer is taking place.