Burgemeester

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Session of the council of the community Oude IJsselstreek, eastern Netherlands: Hans Alberse (left) as chairman of the council. In the background (right) his colleagues of the city government, Dutch: wethouders. On the right a chair is left empty for his position as mayor.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the mayor (Dutch: burgemeester or French: bourgmestre) is an appointed government position, whose main responsibility is chairing the executive and legislative councils of a municipality.

In the Netherlands, the mayor chairs both the council of mayor and aldermen and the city council. He is a member of the council of mayor and aldermen (Dutch: college van burgemeester en wethouders or b & w) and has his own portfolios, often including safety and public order. He also has a representative role, as the head of the municipal government.

He is appointed by the national government for a renewable six-year term. When a vacancy occurs the States-Provincial express their preferences to the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. Almost all mayors are member of a political party, usually the majority party on the city council. However, they are expected to exercise their office in a nonpartisan fashion.

The title is sometimes translated in English as burgomaster, to emphasize the appointed, rather than elected, nature of the office.

The appointment procedure in the Netherlands was brought for discussion in the early 2000s, as some of the political parties represented in parliament regarded the procedure as undemocratic. Alternatives proposed were direct election of the mayor by the people or appointment by the city council (Dutch: gemeenteraad). A constitutional change to allow for this failed to pass the Senate in March 2005.