During the period of the Dutch Republic (1581– 1795), the Staten-Generaal (States General) was an assembly of rep resentatives from the seven sovereign provinces. Affairs concerning the union, religion, and defense(e.g., foreignrelations, the East In dia and West India companies) came within its competence. In 1796, a National Assembly was elected by “universal” male suf frage. In 1798, after the proclamation of the first written constitution of the unified state, the representative body of the Batavian Repub lic consisted of two chambers. The bicameral system was continued after the founding of the kingdom in 1814–1815. With the political crisis of the 1860s, a parliamentary system, with responsible gov ernment, was recognized by the monarch. At present, the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber) is directly elected (since 1919 by universal suffrage of men and women, and by a proportional system based on lists of candidates for the political parties). Now with 150 members, it has the right to accept, amend, or reject government proposals, to introduce bills at its own initiative, and to set up parliamentary committees that investigate government policies. The Eerste Kamer (First Chamber), with 75 members, is elected by members from the provincial assemblies. Its most impor tant task is accepting or rejecting of bills already approved by the Second Chamber. The maximum term for parliamentary elections is four years.
   See also European Parliament (EP); Parliamentary inquiries.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.


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