After the elections to the House of Representatives, the leaders of the political groups negotiate which parties are to form a coalition government for the next four years. Once this has become clear, the formateur selects the candidates for the post of minister or state secretary in the new Cabinet.
Any person wishing to represent the people of the Netherlands in the House of Representatives has to stand for election. People can join a political party or set up a new one on their own, but this is not necessary. Both political parties and individuals can take part in the elections by submitting a list of candidates.
Shortly before the elections, political parties will unveil their plans in their party manifestos. Politicians take to the streets to discuss their goals with the citizens. Throughout the election campaign they seek publicity for their party. They explain what their party wants and how they intend to achieve their goals. Political leaders enter into debate with each other on television, in public meetings and in schools.
On polling day, all Dutch nationals aged 18 or over may cast their vote for a candidate on the candidate list. By casting their vote, people make known which party they want to gain seats in Parliament and perhaps also in the Cabinet.
After the closure of the polling stations at 9 pm the votes are counted. The Central Electoral Office in The Hague gathers all the local polling results, adds them up and determines the overall result of the election.
After the elections, the chairperson of the Central Electoral Office officially notifies the newly elected members of the House of Representatives of their appointment. Subsequently, they must make known if they accept their appointment.
The election of a new House of Representatives is followed by the formation of a new Cabinet, which is a complex and exciting process.
It is the informateur’s task to explore the various options for a new Cabinet. He examines which parties are able and ready to form a new Cabinet and any obstacles which have to be overcome.
The formateur is the man or woman who is likely to become the new Prime Minister. He or she concludes the formation talks.
The Government sets out in the Coalition Agreement what it wants to achieve in the next Cabinet period: for instance a reduction in unemployment, a cleaner environment without damaging the economy, and more money for education. The coalition parties each want to implement as much as possible of their party manifestos in the Coalition Agreement.
At the inauguration ceremony of a new Cabinet the King first appoints and swears in the ministers. This is followed by the traditional photograph of the King and the ministers on the steps of Huis ten Bosch Palace. The King then immediately swears in the State Secretaries. The Cabinet formation is now complete.
The new Cabinet first draws up the Government’s Policy Statement, stating the headlines of the Coalition Agreement. The Prime Minister delivers the Government’s Policy Statement in the House of Representatives. The same day, or in the next sitting, the House of Representatives holds a debate about the content of the Government’s Policy Statement.