Published On: Wed, Nov 16th, 2016

Grant all Parliaments right of initiative Kingdom laws

Council of StatesTHE HAGUE - The Kingdom Council of State has advised against the right of initiative for individual Members of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten to submit a Kingdom Law proposal. Instead, the right of initiative could be granted to the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments as a whole.

The Council published on Tuesday its advice on the amendment that Member of the Aruba Parliament Andin Bikker, as Special Delegate, had submitted during a plenary session of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to handle a law proposal to amend the Kingdom Charter.

Bikker submitted an amendment to the initiative law proposal of former Member of the Second Chamber Gert-Jan van Oven of the Labour Party PvdA and current Member of Parliament (MP) Roelof van Laar (PvdA) to cease the issuing of General Measures of the Kingdom Government (“Algemene Maatregelen van Rijksbestuur” AMvRBs) without a legal base.

In his amendment, Bikker proposed to grant individual MPs of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten the authority to present a Kingdom Law proposal in the Second Chamber. Bikker also proposed to grant the individual Dutch Caribbean MPs the right to actively participate in the verbal handling of his/her initiative law proposal in the Dutch Parliament.

Bikker’s amendment was withdrawn at the time because most MPs were of the opinion that his proposal was not in line with the law proposal at hand. Consequently, it was decided to seek the advice of the Council of State regarding the right of initiative of individual members of the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments.

The Council stated that it could not render a positive advice on the proposal of the Bikker amendment and that this should not result in a proposal to amend the Kingdom Charter, a process that would be required to secure the right of initiative of the MPs from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.

The Council pointed out that there were other possibilities to strengthen the authorities of the overseas Parliaments that were within the boundaries of the Charter. A possible alternative was to grant the right of initiative to the Parliaments as a whole of each of the Dutch Caribbean countries.

According to the Council, such an alternative would better fit within the system of the Charter and would give true meaning to the right of initiative being a typical authority of Parliaments.

Granting the right of initiative to the Parliaments would be in addition to the already existing right of initiative of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The Kingdom Government and the Members of the Second Chamber also have the right of initiative, according to the Dutch Constitution and the Charter.

The Council did note that if indeed the Charter would be amended as Bikker proposed, this would signify a “meaningful step in the direction” of a Kingdom Parliament. However, considering the different views on the desirability of a Kingdom Parliament, it will not be easy to change the current system without an agreement on that system for the long term.

Bikker’s proposal would, on one hand, result in a reduction of the democratic deficit, the inequality of the representation of the countries within the Kingdom. On the other hand, it would result in a “disproportionate” representation of Dutch Caribbean citizens in the legislative body of the Kingdom when considering the “highly unequal population size” of the four countries within the Kingdom.

“Chances are very small that this difference in approach will be bridged and that on short term a consensus is reached regarding a change of the structure,” stated Council of State Vice-President Piet-Hein Donner in the advice.

Considering the differences of opinion, the judging of Bikker’s proposals should be included in the possibilities that the Charter already offers to reduce the democratic deficit and whether better use should be made of these possibilities. “We have to prevent that the discussion about changes to the structure these proposals may possibly start again will consume a lot of time and energy without the prospect of concrete results.”

The Daily Herald

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