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Hallway in the House of Representatives with portraits of all Presidents of the House
Hallway in the House of Representatives with portraits of all Presidents of the House

Position of President in the Northern and Southern Netherlands period

In the time of the Northern and Southern Netherlands (1815-1830), the President of the House of Representatives alternated between someone from the north and someone from the south. After that, MPs from different provinces took turns in the position of President. In the 19th century, several rounds of voting were sometimes needed in order to elect the President and there was occasionally fierce rivalry. The very first President was Jonkheer Jan Elias Nicolaas van Lynden van Hoevelaken.

Rivalry over? Maybe not!

After 1888, rivalry about who should be President began to recede. From then on, the President was chosen from the largest parliamentary group. This meant that, between 1888-1891, there was an anti-revolutionary speaker after the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) and the Catholic People's (KVP) party had secured a majority. From 1891 until 1901, the President was a Liberal.

Later, in 1959, rivalry between the parties resumed. This was because the PvdA was unhappy with the behaviour of President Kortenhorst (KVP) after the Cabinet crisis in 1958. Kortenhorst had insisted on pushing tax proposals through parliament against the wishes of the PvdA. The PvdA MPs then voted for a different President. However, Kortenhorst was eventually elected. Kortenhorst was also the longest-serving President ever, serving 15 years in the position.

Presidents's background

Until 1972, almost all President had a background in law. The arrival of Vondeling, a PvdA member, changed all that. He was an agriculturalist. After that, President came from all kinds of backgrounds.

Constitution revised in 1983

In 1983 the Dutch Constitution was revised. This also brought about changes to the position of President. Until 1983, the President was elected annually. After 1983, the President was elected for a four-year term, the same period as the Cabinet. Since the Constitution was revised, the House of Representatives has also elected the President itself.

Not the largest party

The President is often someone from the larger parliamentary groups in government. But there are some exceptions. Khadija Arib is a member of the PvdA parliamentary group, which currently has nine seats in parliament. That makes it the seventh largest. In 1977 and 1982, although the PvdA was the largest party it was not part of the government. Despite that, it was still the PvdA, as opposition party, that supplied the President Vondeling and Dolman.

In 2002, the LPF and the CDA were larger than the VVD. Despite this, the VVD provided the President, mr. Frans Weisglas.

First woman

The first woman President of the House of Representatives was Jeltje van Nieuwenhoven (PvdA). She held the position from 1998 until 2002.

Public election

President Arib standing next to a group photo of the House prior to the 2017 Elections.
President Arib standing next to a group photo of the House prior to the 2017 Elections.

Since 2002, the House of Representatives has chosen its President in a public election. In 2002, Frans Weisglas (VVD) and Jim Janssen van Raaij (LPF) put themselves forward as candidates. The VVD had nominated Annemarie Jorritsma. In a plenary sitting, the candidates presented themselves to the other MPs, explaining their reasons for standing. The House eventually elected Frans Weisglas.

In 2006, MPs chose Gerdi Verbeet (PvdA) as the Speaker. She was re-elected in 2010. Anouchka van Miltenburg (VVD) served as President from September 2012 until 12 December 2015. She stood down prematurely. In an interim election on 13 January 2016, Khadija Arib was elected as the new President. She was re-elected after the parliamentary elections of 2017.