Elections of the Senate

The elections to the Senate are held every four years. They are always held within three months of the provincial council elections. The most recent elections to the Senate were held on 26 May 2015; the next elections will take place on 27 May 2019.

photo of seats in the Dutch Senate's Assembly hall

Image: Electoral Council

The provincial executives of the provinces are responsible for the organization of the elections.

Eligibility to vote

Elections to the Senate are not direct, as is the case with the 'normal' elections, but indirect. Citizens entitled to vote elect the members of the provincial council (at present, the provincial councils number 570 members in total), and they, in turn, elect the 75 members of the Senate. This process is referred to as indirect elections. The members of the provincial council of each province hold a meeting to cast their votes.

Vote value

Votes cast to elect the members of the Senate do not all have the same value. A certain value is assigned to the vote of each member of the provincial council. This value is related to the number of residents of the province represented. The more populated a province, the higher the vote value of each provincial councillor representing this province.

Registration of political parties

Political parties desiring to register a new appellation (party name) with which to participate in the next elections to the Senate must apply for such registration with the Electoral Council. Appellations registered for the elections to the House of Representatives are also registered for the elections to the Senate. These appellations do not, therefore, have to be re-registered.

Nomination

On nomination day, all political parties submit their list of candidates to the Electoral Council. This list may be the same for all provinces or differ per province. When drawing up their list of candidates, political parties may make use of the Election Supporting Software (ESS). This software is available at the provincial polling stations.

Electoral Committee

The chair of each provincial council appoints councillors to join the chair and make up the electoral committee of the province concerned.

Central Electoral Committee

The Electoral Council acts as central electoral committee for the elections to the Senate. The Electoral Council determines the final election results. In addition, the Electoral Council fulfils the following duties related to these elections:

  • registration of political party names ('appellations')
  • assessment of the lists of candidates and their validity
  • assigning numbers to the lists of candidates
  • appointment of the members of the Senate

Election day

The vote of the provincial council is taken on the thirty-fourth day after nomination day at 3:00 p.m.

Voting by proxy

Members of the provincial council may vote by proxy. A member desiring to do so must submit a written request to this effect with the presiding officer of the electoral committee, appointing another member to act as their proxy.

Term of office

Members of the Senate are elected into office for a period of four years. In theory, the Senate may be dissolved prior to the lapse of the official term of office. In that case, interim elections are held.

Election results

The election results are officially published by the central electoral committee (the Electoral Council) in open session in the Senate building as soon as possible (generally within two days following the vote). The results of the elections to the Senate are stored in the Electoral Council's election results database.

Appointments

The members of the Senate are appointed by the central electoral committee (the Electoral Council). Upon a candidate being determined to have been elected, the Senate's Credentials Committee assesses whether this candidate may be admitted to the Senate. In its assessment, the Committee verifies whether the candidate meets the requirements for membership, and whether they do not hold any positions incompatible with being a member of the Senate.

Overview of the Dutch Senate

Together with the House of Representatives, the Senate forms the Parliament of the Netherlands (referred to as the States-General in the Constitution of the Netherlands). The Senate is composed of 75 members. These members are not elected directly by the residents of the Netherlands, but indirectly, by the members of the provincial councils. Elections to the Senate are held within three months of the provincial council elections. The Senate's most important duty is to assess the legislative proposals approved by the House of Representatives.
For further information, please refer to the website of the Dutch Senate.