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The States-Provincial (in Dutch: Provinciale Staten, abbreviated PS – commonly known as simply the Staten) is the provincial parliament and legislative assembly in each of the Provinces of the Netherlands. It is elected for each province simultaneously once every four years and has the responsibility for matters of sub-national or regional importance. Each States-Provincial is directly elected by the electors within the relevant province, and the number of seats in each States-Provincial is proportional to its population.
The States-Provincial originated as Estates assemblies in the Middle Ages, hence the name. From 1813 to 1850 the noble members of the ridderschap chose one third of the members of States-Provincial. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke's reforms and his "Provinces Law" ("provinciewet") of 1850 brought this privilege to an end.
The States-Provincial choose the Gedeputeerde Staten as the executive organ of the province. Originally, the States-Provincial themselves had also executive powers and chose the Gedeputeerde Staten from their own members for daily governance. In 11 March 2003, the two institutions split; in other words, there was a change from fusion of powers to separation of powers. The principal roles of the States-Provincial have become to set general policies, represent the people, approve provincial legislation and the annual budget and to oversee the executive. Both the Gedeputeerde Staten and the States-Provincial are presided over by the King's Commissioner in the province, appointed by the Crown every 6 years.
The last provincial elections were held 2 March 2011.
Number of seats in each States-Provincial
The size of a States-Provincial ranges from 39 members for a province with less than 400,000 inhabitants to 55 members for a province with more than 2.000.000 inhabitants.
Before 2007, it ranged from 39 members for a province with less than 200,000 inhabitants to 83 members for a province with more than 2,500,000 inhabitants. As a consequence of a change to the Provinciewet, starting at the States-Provincial elections of 7 March 2007, the total number of States-Provincial members was reduced from 764 to 564. A survey of the change in seats per province:
|Province||Seats after 2007||Seats before 2007|
A consequence of this reduction in the number of seats is that the election threshold (the minimum number of votes needed for a party to gain at least one seat in an assembly) has risen. Depending on the province, the threshold now lies between 1.5% and over 2% of the votes. Because of this, it has become harder for small parties to win a seat. This may also have consequences for the representation of small parties in the Senate, which is elected by the members of the States-Provincial.
Elections by party by province
Due to defections from one party to another and other such reasons the number of seats can fluctuate during each inter-elections period. This table only shows the distribution straight after the elections.
The named 'others' for 2007 are:
- in Groningen: PvhN (by 1 seat)
- in Friesland: FNP (by 5 seats)
- in Utrecht: Mooi Utrecht (by 1 seat)
- in Noord-Holland: ONH/Verenigd Senioren Partij (by 1 seat)
- in Zuid-Holland: Leefbaar Zuid-Holland (by 1 seat)
- in Zeeland: PVZ (by 2 seats)
- in Noord-Brabant: Brabantse Partij (by 1 seat)
- in Limburg: PNL (by 1 seat)
Seat distribution in the States-Provincial after the 2007 elections
Statenverkiezingen means State-Provincial elections.
- Provinces of the Netherlands
- Interprovinciaal Overleg
- Estates of the realm, for the origin of the term
- Provincieraad, the equivalent body in Belgium
- Website of the Interprovinciaal Overleg (IPO)
- Official figures of the kiesraad
- List of present Statenleden