A commission set up to look at ways of boosting confidence in the Dutch parliamentary system is recommending the introduction of a binding referendum.
The current government is scrapping the option of advisory referendums because of fears they were being misused. But the commission, which published preliminary findings on Thursday, says a binding referendum would be a ‘good safety valve’ when it comes to dealing with controversial issues.
The commission, led by former minister Johan Remkes, has been charged by both houses of parliament to look into the entire system of government in the Netherlands and to develop suggestions for modernising it.
The commission, according to broadcaster NOS, says the current batch of MPs and senators are ‘not an ideal reflection of society’. There are, it says, deficiencies in terms of the ‘demographic, educational level, wealth, employment background and, potentially regional’ make up of the two houses of parliament.
In particular, the decisions made on major issues such as European integration and migration do not reflect the views of a large group of voters, the commission said. ‘The introduction of a binding, corrective referendum can contribute to solving this problem,’ Remkes writes in the report.
The commission is recommending introducing a system of voting districts which would ensure all parts of the country are represented in parliament and to focus attention on candidates more than the party.
There also needs to be more supervision of digital political campaigns and a maximum limit for political donations, both from within the Netherlands and abroad the commission said.
The commission has until December to complete its work and publish finalised recommendations. The government is under no obligation to adopt them.
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