Friday 13 December 2019

Personal votes should carry more weight in elections, says reform committee

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The government is considering plans to give more weight to votes for individual candidates in Dutch elections so that MPs have a stronger personal mandate.

A committee convened last December to look at constitutional reform recommended the measure as a way of creating stronger links between voters and their elected representatives.

Voters would also have more options on the ballot paper, including voting for a party without naming a specific individual or stating a preference for a candidate from their own region.

Under the current system of proportional representation, voters choose an individual candidate from a series of party lists, but the votes are counted by party. The seats are taken by the highest-ranked candidates on each party’s list, but candidates can push their way up the list if they receive enough personal votes.

Binding referendums

The committee, chaired by Johan Remkes, also said binding referendums should be introduced and the Constitutional Court should have the power to declare laws unconstitutional. However, both measures are opposed by the largest coalition parties, the VVD and Christian Democrats.

The cabinet is considering changing the election of senators so that they serve a six-year term, with half the senate being replaced every three years. The move would revert to the system last used in 1983 and prevent the current situation, where the opposition has a majority in the upper house and can claim a more recent mandate than the coalition.

Remkes also proposed making it harder for smaller parties to stand for election by raising the number of signatures needed to participate in general elections from 580 to 1,200 and more than trebling the deposit from €11,000 to €36,000.

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