You are here: Country Section > Netherlands




There are two petitions running to collect signatures for a referendum in the Netherlands:
  • The Lisbon Treaty passed in the Second Chamber of the Netherlands on 5th June 2008

  • It was passed in the First Chamber of the Netherlands on 8th July 2008

  • Royal assent was granted on
    10th July 2008

Political Situation

8 July 08 - The Dutch First Chamber have voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty today.  The Second Chamber already voted for the treaty on 5th June 2008. Royal Assent is now need from Queen Beatrix before the instruments of ratification can be depositied in Rome.

8 Jan 08 - The push for a referendum in the Nehterlands has reached a low point at the moment. Apathy towards the topic is wide spread amongst the Dutch people at present.

12 Nov 07 - Last Week the Dutch Liberal Party (Liberale Partij) decided that they would not back a referendum initiative in the Dutch Parliament, which has had a knock-on effect on the referendum campaigns in the Netherlands. The Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij) will however still push for a vote in the parliament on their initiative for a referendum.


28 Sept 07 - Find here a comprehensive report on the current situtaion in the Netherlands!

27 Sept 07 - On Tuesday the Social Democrats decided not to support a second referendum on the EU Reform Treaty. They exchanged this for the removal of plans set by the Christian Democrats to make it easier to fire employees. The election programme of the Social Democrats had explicitly promised a referendum on any new EU treaty, and PRIOR to the elections party leader Bos stated: "If a new treaty comes up that even only remotely resembles the European Constitution, there will be a second referendum."  However after the elections suddenly new insights have emerged among the Dutch Leaders. It is extremely coinsidental how this always is AFTER elections.

A few Social Democrat MP's are strongly in favour of a new referendum and may go against the party line and vote for the referendum . On the 6th October the social democrats have their party conference, but even though 60% of their members  (poll 25 Sept) said they disagree with the party position, a members' revolt seems unlikely. However it is still too early to know the outcome, and the party establishment appears to be in a very defensive mood today.

The advocats of a referendum call on the Liberals to allow a referendum: "Don't deprive the citizens of their right to choose!" But unless the Liberals support it (which is very unlikely)  there will be no majority in the parliament to hold a second referendum.

"Sources within the government" (of Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats who have the majority of cabinet ministers and have always been against any type of referendum) have leaked to the press information stating that the government would refuse to carry out the decision to hold the referendum (which has the form of law) if the parliament would decide upon such a referendum. Such a situation hasn't happened since 1986, according to some commentators. This would in all probability lead to the end of the government and new elections. So they are playing it hard - apparently it is highly important to them that the new Holy Roman Empire remains in place.

As many letters in newspapers and comments on the internet said, "they
are stuffing Europe down our throats

22 Sept 07 - There may be a chance of having a second Dutch referendum. The media and some organisations are asking for a referendum, and polls show a good majority of the population want it. A key report from the Dutch government’s highest advisory body has given a key report to the Council of State stating that the Reform Treaty contains no “constitutional elements” therefore a referendum is not necessary for ratification.  However this advice is not binding and the Parliament can still call for a referendum, as they did for the Constitutional Treaty.

Within the Parliament the Dutch Labour Party the second largest party in the Second Chamber are in favour of a referendum and at present form part of the governing coalition.  There is a possibility of a referendum bill passing through the Second Chamber, however the bill also has to pass through the First Chamber as well.  This is more difficult as within the First Chamber as the Christian Democrat majority and the Liberals are supposedly opposed to holding a referendum.

Ratification Process(es)

Ratification without the need for a constitutional amendment
A simple majority is needed in both chambers for ratification (Art. 91I, 67 II Dutch Constitution).

Ratification with the need of Constitutional Amendments
Approval of the transfer of sovereignty with a constitutional amendment requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of the parliament (A rt. 92, 91 III of the Constitution of the Netherlands).

The approval of the constitutional amendment requires a majority of 2/3 of votes from both chambers after a law declares the necessity of a constitutional amendment, the disbandment of both chambers and their re-election (Art. 137 Constitution of the Netherlands).

Other Constitutional Regulations on Referendums
There are no constitutional arrangements set out for the Netherlands. For a referendum to be binding it requires implementation by constitutional amendment. Consultative referendum however can be held if ordered by ad hoc law.

Ratification of the old Constitution

EU Constitution was rejected in a non-binding referendum on the 1st June (Yes 38.4% - No 61.6% - Turnout 62.8%)

Support for a European Constitution

55% of the Dutch population are in favour of a constitution for the European Union. (Eurobarometer 67 June 2007)

Referendums Held on European Issues

  • 2005: EU Constitution (Yes 38.4% - No 61.6% - Turnout 62.8%)
Go Back

© Democracy International