Netherlands Citizens Assembly update

J.H. Snider has an update, from his correspondent in the Netherlands, on the Citizens Assembly that is reviewing the workings of Dutch democracy.

A couple of things stand out for me in the correspondent’s report:

A poll held in the previous weekend revealed some opinions in the assembly: The majority of the assembly does not want to change anything about the proportionality of our current system, the existence of coalition governments and the current high turnouts at elections (of around 80%).

All good and sensible. But…

Some things the majority thinks should be changed are the number of parties in parliament, the way coalitions and the cabinet are formed, and the role of MPs.

Keeping the existing things they like while getting the new things they want is going to be a interesting exercise in institutional design.

0 thoughts on “Netherlands Citizens Assembly update

  1. Given that the impetus for the Assembly came from the D66 party who wanted to copy some elements of the German system, I’d say their plans are showing some traction.

    1) a threshold of 3% (between the present 0.67% and the German 5%) would mean the present nine parties in parliament would likely shrink to a more normal six (assuming the disintegration of the Pim Fortuyn List), about the average in Europe.

    2) a bigger role for individual MPs would suggest a mixed-member system inspired by Germany’s.

    Currently in Ontario, I know of one prominent Dutch-born politician who is a long-time proponent of proportional representation — “provided it’s the German system, not the extreme one found in the Netherlands.” I guess he’s not unique.

  2. The original D66 proposal that was presented to a group of us psephologists in San Diego in summer 2004 was SNTV with list-PR compensation. Right up there with some of the wackiest electoral-system ideas I have ever seen.

  3. The Dutch ‘Citizens Assemby on Electoral Reform’ (Burgerforum Kiesstelsel) have made their decision. (unfortunately, I can only find a Dutch text.)
    It keeps the actual party-list PR in a nationwide constituency, but proposes two major changes:

    1. The d’Hondt formula should be replaced by the simple quota & largest remainder formula because it is fairer to smaller parties.

    2. Voters should get more power in determining WHO will be elected from the party lists.
    Normally the top candidates are elected, lower candidates can only get elected if they obtain 1/4th of a simple quota. (only 10% of MPs get elected this way)
    The Citizens Assembly proposes that a voter can vote for the whole list or for one candidate. The seats are distributed “proportionally” between the top of the list and the most vote-getters: if party A gets 20 seats, 40% of A-voters vote for the entire list, and 60% vote for some candidate on the list, then the top 8 are eleted and the 12 other seats go to the 12 candidates with the highest personal score.

  4. Why can’t the Netherlands use a Mixed Member system or Open List PR in multi member districts and a national compensation list or Single Transferable Vote with a national compensation tier?

    If the Dutch do change to an MMP system, is it going to be a one vote or two votes? If it is going to be two votes? Will parties use decoy lists to circumvent proportionality? Is their a way to prevent parties from spliting themselves into two parties in a two vote MMP system from getting more sets than they deserve?

    If the Dutch go to Open List PR. The Danish PR system is fairy nice and that could be a good template for the Dutch to examine.

    The country’s population is 16,105,285. Even though the country is small geographically. It has a fairly large population. There are a lot of countries with smaller population than the Netherlands that could not and would elect it’s politicians in one nation wide district. New Zealand has a much smaller population than the Netherlands has and uses MMP. One would think that a small country in the Caribbean or Pacific would use the Dutch system of PR.

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