Khadija Arib in the Handelingenkamer (Old Library)
Khadija Arib in the Handelingenkamer (Old Library)

“Thank you for your confidence. I consider it a great honour. You all know me. I look forward to being able to hold some great, substantial and exciting debates.” (Khadija Arib, Presidentof the House of Representatives, on her re-election on 29 March 2017).

This is how Khadija Arib thanked her fellow MPs immediately after her re-election as President on 29 March 2017.

The role of the President

As President, Khadija Arib leads the plenary debates in the Dutch House of Representatives. She does this on the basis of the rules agreed by the MPs in the House of Representatives’ Rules of Procedure. For example, this includes ensuring that speakers do not deviate from the subject in a debate.

Unwritten rules

There are also unwritten rules that the President applies. These include MPs always speaking via the President and not directly to each other. This is thought to keep the debate more professional and not too personal.

The face of the House of Representatives

In her role as President, Khadija Arib also ensures that the government implements the decisions made by the House. In addition, she also chairs the Presidium, the Executive Board of the House of Representatives, and serves as the face of the House of Representatives to the outside world.

Application process

All MPs can be elected as to the position of Speaker. They write a letter of application to put themselves forward. Khadija Arib’s letter of application (2017) explains why she put herself forward for re-election as Speaker.

Both President and MP

A President remains a member of the political party for which he or she was elected as an MP. In Khadija Arib’s case, this is the Labour Party (PvdA). Ms. Arib also takes part in the meetings of her parliamentary group and casts her vote just like all the other 149 MPs.

Article 55

In theory, the President is allowed to speak in debates, but in practice, this rarely happens. It would be slightly at odds with her impartial, neutral role. If it happens, Article 55 of the Rules of Procedure stipulates that one of the deputy Presidents will chair the session while the subject on which the President is speaking is being discussed.