Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Prime Minister of the
Coat of arms of the Netherlands - 02.svg
Coat of Arms
Mark Rutte

since 14 October 2010
Style Minister-President, Premier
Residence Catshuis
Appointer Beatrix of the Netherlands
Term length No term limit
Inaugural holder Gerrit Schimmelpenninck
March 25, 1848
Formation Constitution of the Netherlands
Deputy Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Website Official site

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands is the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands.[1][2][3] He is the de facto head of government of the Netherlands and coordinates the policy of the government. The current prime minister is Mark Rutte who holds the 50th premiership in the Netherlands.



The Hague's Binnenhof. The ministry of General Affairs is in the centre, with on the centre left a hexagon shaped tower, named "het Torentje", which is the office of the prime minister

Because of his or her limited powers, the prime minister is described as primus inter pares (first among equals).[4]

As a result of the constitutional review of 1983, the position of Prime Minister was inscribed into the Dutch constitution for the first time.[5] According to the constitution, the Government is constituted by the King and the ministers.[6] The constitution stipulates the prime minister chairs the council of ministers (article 45) and is appointed by royal decree (article 43). The royal decree of his own appointment and those of the other ministers are to be contra-signed by the prime minister (article 48).

The prime minister chairs the weekly meetings of the council of ministers and he or she has the power to set the agenda of these meetings. The prime minister is also Minister of General Affairs (Minister van Algemene Zaken), which takes an important role in coordinating policy and is responsible for the Government Information Service (Dutch: Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst). The prime minister is also responsible for the royal house and has a weekly meeting with the Queen on government policy. Informally the Prime Minister also functions as the "face" of the cabinet to the public. After the meetings of the cabinet on Friday, the Prime Minister hosts a press conference on the decisions of the cabinet and current affairs. The prime minister also has some functions in international affairs, attending the European Council every six months and maintaining bilateral contacts. The prime minister's office is a hexagon shaped tower, named "The Little Tower" (Dutch: Het Torentje) on the Binnenhof in The Hague. The official residence (which is only used for official functions) is the Catshuis.

Conventionally, the party with the largest number of seats in the Second Chamber will initiate coalition talks after elections. This usually leads to its party leader being instituted as formator of the cabinet. After the negotiations are concluded he or she becomes prime minister. A minister from the smaller coalition party usually becomes vice prime minister of the cabinet. If there is a third party in the coalition, one of its ministers will become second vice prime minister.


For a list of historic Prime Ministers, see List of Prime Ministers of the Netherlands

Gradually the prime minister became an official function of government leader, taken by the political leader of the largest party. Since 1848 the role of the first minister has become relevant. In that year a constitution was adopted which made ministers responsible to parliament and Kings inviolable. Before that year ministers were responsible to the King, who acted as leader of cabinet. Until 1901 the position chair of the council of ministers officially rotated between ministers. Between 1901 and 1945 the position formally still rotated but prominent politicians were able to claim a rotation period of four years. In 1937 a separate Ministry of General Affairs was instituted which was informally linked to the prime minister. In 1971–73 Barend Biesheuvel was the last prime minister who was not the political leader of the largest party in cabinet, but actually of the third largest. In 1983 the function of prime minister was laid down in the constitution.

The position of the prime-minister has been enforced by the creation of the European Council.[7] In November 2006, the rules of procedure of the council of ministers was changed to allow the prime-minister to put any item on the agenda of the council, whereas before he had to wait for a minister to take the initiative.[8] A change of the rules of procedure of the cabinet in July 2008 allowed the prime-minister to direct other ministers on the costs of the Royal House, which are covered by several ministries.[9]

Living Prime Ministers

Living Dutch Prime Ministers at a lunch organized by the incumbent Mark Rutte on 5 July 2011. From left to right: Wim Kok, Dries van Agt, Piet de Jong, Mark Rutte, Ruud Lubbers, and Jan Peter Balkenende.
Cabinet Zijlstra in 1966 with four Prime Ministers Jan de Quay (1959-1963, First row second person Jelle Zijlstra (1966-1967, First row third person) Barend Biesheuvel (1971-1973, First row fourth person) Piet de Jong (1967-1971, Second row fifth person)
Prime Minister Term Age
Piet de Jong 1967–1971 April 3, 1915 (1915-04-03) (age 96)
Dries van Agt 1977–1982 February 2, 1931 (1931-02-02) (age 80)
Ruud Lubbers 1982–1994 May 7, 1939 (1939-05-07) (age 72)
Wim Kok 1994–2002 September 29, 1938 (1938-09-29) (age 73)
Jan Peter Balkenende 2002–2010 May 7, 1956 (1956-05-07) (age 55)
Mark Rutte 2010- February 14, 1967 (1967-02-14) (age 44)

Countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Prime Minister is also chairman of the cabinet of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and therefore also deals with matters affecting the other countries Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten in the kingdom. The independent cabinets of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten also have their own prime ministers: Mike Eman (Prime Minister of Aruba), Gerrit Schotte (Prime Minister of Curaçao), and Sarah Wescot-Williams (Prime Minister of Sint Maarten).


The Queen appoints Deputy Prime Ministers. Conventionally all of the junior partners in the coalition get one Deputy Prime Minister; they are ranked according to the size of their respective parties. When the Prime minister is not present at a cabinet meeting, the senior deputy present chairs it. In the current Cabinet Rutte Maxime Verhagen (CDA) is the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands. If the Prime Minister and the deputies are absent, the oldest member of the cabinet chairs the meeting. In the current Cabinet Rutte, Minister of Public Safety and Justice Ivo Opstelten (VVD) chairs those meetings.


This article is part of the series:
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  1. ^ Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden [Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands], article 45 section 2.
  2. ^ Van der Pot, C.W., Donner, A.M.: Handboek van het Nederlandse staatsrecht [Handbook of Dutch Constitutional Law], page 344-345. Zwolle: W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, 1983.
  3. ^ , a website maintained by the Parliament Documentation Centre of Leiden University.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Van der Pot, 344.
  6. ^ Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, article 42, section 1: "De regering wordt gevormd door de Koning en de ministers."
  7. ^ Van der Pot, 345
  8. ^ Van Middelaar, Luuk: De passage naar Europa. Geschiedenis van een begin [The Passage to Europe. History of A Beginning], page 409. Groningen: Historische Uitgeverij 2009.
  9. ^ ”Balkenende rotzooit met staatsrecht”, NRC Handelsblad, July 10th 2008.

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