Municipal council (Netherlands)

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Members of the city council of Spijkenisse.

In the Netherlands the municipal council (gemeenteraad) is the elected assembly of the municipality. Its main role is laying down the guidelines for the policy of the council of mayor and aldermen and exercising control over its execution by the council of mayor and aldermen.

The municipal councils range in size from nine to 45 seats, depending on the municipality's population, and are elected by the population every four years. In many municipalities all major political parties contest in the election in addition to local parties. In most major, urban municipalities, all major parties are represented in the city council, while in smaller and more rural municipalities, only the largest parties and a local party have seats in the city council. All citizens and foreigners who live in the Netherlands for at least four years in a municipality have the right to vote and almost all citizens can be elected. Ministers and state secretaries in the national government are barred from standing in elections as well as mayors and civil servants employed by the municipality. After the elections the parties in the states elect the aldermen.

The municipal council is supported by its own civil service headed by the raadsgriffier. Members of the council are not paid as full-time politicians; instead, most of them have day job. As in most legislatures, the members of municipal council work in both political groups and policy area related committees. The mayor chairs the meetings of the council.

Some municipalities allow parties to have dual councillors, politicians who are not elected into the city council but are allowed to speak in committees.