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The Netherlands introduce Citizens' Intitiative

The Netherlands introduce Citizens' Intitiative


Today (7 February 2006) the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament has introduced the citizen initiative right at the national level.

It is purely an initiative: no referendum follows in case the Parliament rejects the proposal.

Even the conservative parties supported the introduction. During the negotiations they were able to adopt several amendments to the draft. These amendments have weakened the new instrument considerably.

The details

  • 40.000 signatures (original proposal: 15.000) of those who are entitled to vote for national parliament
  • free signature gathering
  • Excluded are the topics: taxes, the budget, things that are violating the Constitution or "public moral"
  • The Parliament will decide case-by-case whether the initiators can defend their proposal in Parliament; so they don’t have an equal right
  • there can be no citizen initiatives for 2 years on a topic once it has been dealt with by the Parliament.
  • After 2 years, the instrument will be evaluated. Parliament has 6 months to do this; during this time there can not be any citizen initiative

The hurdles were made higher and the exceptions introduced under pressure from the opponents of direct democracy, the conservative parties.

 By Arjen Nijeboer, Ronald Pabst

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