With the approval of the First Chamber (the Senate) of the Dutch Parliament to change the Dutch Constitution, which enables establishing an Electoral Council for Dutch citizens abroad so this sizable group can indirectly vote for the Senate, Foundation Dutch Citizens Outside the Netherlands SNBN booked a major victory.
What started with a motion presented at the congress of the Democratic Party D66 in 2015, came to fruition seven years later when on Tuesday, the Senate voted in favour of changing the Constitution to give Dutch citizens outside the Netherlands a say in the composition of the First Chamber.
This will be done through an Electoral Council, similar to the one for the Caribbean Netherlands islands, which enables Dutch citizens in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to indirectly elect the members of the First Chamber every four years. The Electoral Council for Dutch citizens abroad would consist of about 45 Dutch citizens residing outside of the European Netherlands.
The law proposal to give Dutch citizens abroad, including those living in Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, a say in the Senate through an Electoral Council was adopted with the required two-thirds majority support of 75 votes: 54 in favour and 21 against.
The parties that voted in favour were: OSF, PvdA, D66, PvdD, Group Otten, CU, CDA, VVD, GroenLinks and 50PLUS. Against were the parties Group Nanninga, SP, PVV, FvD, Group Frentrop and SOP.
Dutch citizens living abroad can currently vote for the Second Chamber and the European Parliament, but not for the Provincial States, which in the Netherlands elect the members of the First Chamber, and the municipal council.
The change to the Constitution will not be in time for the next First Chamber elections in 2023. Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Hanke Bruins Slot stated during the debate in the Senate on June 26, that Dutch citizens abroad will not be able to make use of this new voting right in May 2023, because of the time it takes to prepare an Electoral Council.
A group of SNBN members from all over the world, under the guidance of SNBN board member Jan Joosten, came to the plenary handling of the law proposal on Tuesday. They were all dressed in SNBN shirts and handed over one of the shirts to Senator Boris Dittrich of the D66 party.
During the plenary handling, Dittrich had this to say about why Dutch citizens abroad should have a say in the composition of the First Chamber: “When you as a Dutch citizen live abroad, you are actually an ambassador of your own country on an inter-human level. It is odd if you as a Dutch citizen abroad can participate in the Second Chamber elections or the elections for the European Parliament, only because you do not reside in a Dutch province or the Caribbean Netherlands.”
In total, the Senate on Tuesday adopted six proposals to change the Constitution in a so-called second reading, for which a two-thirds majority is needed. Apart from the Electoral Council for Dutch citizens abroad, it concerned, among other things, about the right to an honest process and a general stipulation that the Constitution safeguards the fundamental rights and the democratic state of law.
The Daily Herald.