Four-year term as President
The President is elected for a four-year term. Until 1983, the President was elected annually. In those days, the House of Representatives nominated three candidates on Prince’s Day (the state opening of Parliament) and the reigning King or Queen chose the President from among them. However, this was merely a formality. The first candidate was always chosen as President.
Until 2002, the parties agreed amongst themselves which parliamentary group would provide the President. All MPs are now entitled to apply for the position. The House of Representatives compiles a job profile for the role. This includes the fact that the President must be impartial and that parliamentary experience is required.
Each MP can cast a vote and voting is in secret. In the first round of voting, all MPs write down the name of their preferred candidate on a voting slip. This vote is only valid if at least 76 MPs are present (i.e. a majority).
In the first two rounds, MPs have a ‘free’ vote. That means that they can vote for anyone, including MPs who have not applied. If no one has an absolute majority after the second vote, a third vote is held between up to four candidates. If a fourth round of voting is necessary, MPs can vote for the two candidates who achieved the most votes in the third round.