Putting the ballot paper in the ballot box
Putting the ballot paper in the ballot box

At least once every four years the Dutch go to the polling station for the election of the House of Representatives. Parties wanting to take part in the election have to register their candidate lists with the Electoral Council. Citizens wanting to cast their vote in the polling station on polling day must meet the following conditions:

  • they must be Dutch nationals;
  • they must be aged 18 years or older;
  • they are not exempt from the right to vote.

Dutch nationals abroad and residents of the Dutch Caribbean, Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba, are also entitled to vote.

The fall of the Cabinet

If the Cabinet falls, early elections are called. This was the case on 12 September 2012, after the Rutte I Cabinet had collapsed on 23 April 2012. The election contest that followed resulted in the formation of the Rutte II Cabinet, a coalition made up of liberal VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) and the Labour Party PvdA (the two biggest parties in the House of Representatives at the time). The installation of the current House of Representatives took place on 20 September 2012.

Election campaign

In the run-up to the 2017 elections political parties and their candidates will be campaigning across the country, up to and including polling day on Wednesday 15 March 2017. Following the closure of the polling stations in the evening, the unofficial polling result is published on the basis of exit polls. The official election result is published later in a public sitting of the Electoral Council. The current House of Representatives will be dissolved on 23 March, after which the new House of Representatives will take office.

Cabinet formation

No later than one week after the election the new House of Representatives holds a debate about the election result. Since 2012 the House of Representatives has taken the initiative in the formation of a new Cabinet, instead of the King. In the course of the debate the House designates a so-called informateur, whose duty it is to explore which coalition of political parties could form a viable new Cabinet. The formation process may last several weeks up to half a year in some cases. After the conclusion of a coalition agreement the King swears in the new ministers and state secretaries and the Cabinet sets to work.

Formation of parliamentary groups

On Wednesday 22 June 2016 the Speaker of the House, Ms Khadija Arib took receipt of the report "The formation of parliamentary groups in the House of Representatives" on behalf of the Presidium. In this report a working group of members of the House of Representatives proposed that no new parliamentary groups should be created in the House after the elections. MPs who separate themselves from their political party will be called individual groups and will be dealt with accordingly.