Dutch citizens abroad get voting rights for Senate

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.

D66 Senator Boris Dittrich (left) receives a T-shirt from Foundation Dutch Citizens Outside the Netherlands SNBN board member Jan Joosten.

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.

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