Individual citizens may have little influence, but when like-minded people with shared interests join forces, they have the power to put forward their ideas more forcefully. Read more about the ways in which Dutch citizens can make their opinions and ideas known to Parliament.
- The mediaPeople can use the media and the internet to criticise the Government and Parliament. They can try to exercise influence by exposing abuses and by publicly disclosing injustice and arbitrariness, committed by the authorities. They can also draw attention to their own views. These are ways that everyone can try to influence public opinion.
- Political partiesPeople who share the same ideas about how society should be organised often join forces in the same political party. Political parties constitute a bridge between the voters and the political institutions, and determine the political landscape of the Netherlands. Political parties play a key role in the elections, the formation of a new Cabinet and the decision-making in Parliament. Everyone can join an existing political party or form a new one.
- Extra-parliamentary groups: lobbiesPoliticians will take into account the opinions of important movements that enjoy major public support, such as trade unions, the farming sector or the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB). Some of these organisations are represented in official advisory bodies, which the Government or Parliament often consult before taking a decision on a matter. Examples of such bodies are the Social and Economic Council (SER) or the Education Council of the Netherlands (De Onderwijsraad).
- Demonstrating and campaigningPeople who want a certain social issue to get widespread attention can hold a demonstration or mount a campaign
Many idealistic organisations and pressure groups, such as the environmental movement and the women's rights movement make their opinions heard by campaigning and demonstrating. They play an important role in democracy. Society has changed drastically as a result of the activities of such organisations.
- Getting in touch with MPsOnce every four years the Dutch elect the people who will represent them in the House of Representatives. MPs are there for the people they represent. MPs are active all over the country. For instance, they regularly attend party meetings in the country and they pay working visits. At such occasions, people have the opportunity to meet their MPs, but they can also write them a letter, make a phone call or send an e-mail. MPs frequently receive people in the House of Representatives. People who would like to meet an MP should make an appointment in advance.
- A petition is a political request in writing, expressing a person's opinion on government policy. A petition is often presented on behalf of a group of people, following a national campaign.
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS
People who want to present a petition must register in writing. The petition must state the policy measure or rule that the petitioners do not agree with, the objective they want to achieve and the names of the organisers. The request to present the petition is put on the list of incoming correspondence during the next sitting of the House. The committee then decides whether the petitioners may present their petition, and if so, when. Petitions to a specific standing committee (chair) have to be sent to the clerk of the committee in question, accompanied by an explanatory letter.
- Citizens' InitiativeAnyone can put an item on the agenda of the House of representatives by means of a citizens' initiative. A citizens' initiative is a detailed proposal, for instance to improve the environment, the educational system or public transport. It contains a request to the House of Representatives to examine the proposal and to take a stand on it. A citizens' initiative is explicitly a new proposal and not a reaction to legislation already dealt with or due to be dealt with by the House.
The members of the House of Representatives represent the Dutch people. The citizens' initiative is one of the most direct ways to make one's ideas on how to improve society known to MPs. The committee on Petitions and Citizen's Initiatives examines all submitted proposals and assesses whether the requirements have been met.
- A written requestA written request or individual petition relates to an individual case in which the petitioner believes the Central Government has made the wrong decision.
People who believe themselves affected by negligent or improper actions by a Central Government body can file a complaint with the Petitions and Citizens’ Initiatives committee of the House of Representatives. The matter concerned must be an individual one and there must be no possibility of objection, or appeal, to an independent court. This means that people cannot lodge appeals with the House of Representatives against court rulings.