Cabinet of the Netherlands

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Netherlands

The cabinet of the Netherlands (Dutch: Nederlands kabinet) is the main executive body of the Netherlands. The current cabinet of the Netherlands is the Third Rutte cabinet, which has been in power since 26 October 2017. It is headed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his deputies Hugo de Jonge, Kajsa Ollongren and Carola Schouten.

Composition and role[edit]

The Hague's Binnenhof. The Ministry of General Affairs, where the Council of Ministers meets every Friday, is in the centre.

The cabinet consists of the ministers and state secretaries. The cabinet is led by the Prime Minister. There are between twelve and sixteen Ministers, most of whom are also heads of specific government ministries, although there are often some ministers without portfolio who have areas of responsibility inside one or more ministries. For instance there has for some time been a minister for development cooperation, who works within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Most ministries also have a state secretary who is responsible for part of the relevant portfolio. State secretaries (such as that of Trade and Development Cooperation) are given the right to call themselves "Minister" in other countries and be treated as such for protocolary purposes, while not having any of the domestic rights given specifically to Ministers. Most significantly, state secretaries are not members of the Council of Ministers.

The policy of a cabinet is coordinated by the Council of Ministers, in which all ministers, including ministers without portfolio, take part. The Council initiates laws and policy. State secretaries do not attend the Council of Ministers unless invited, and even then they have no voting rights in the Council. The Council meets every Friday in the Trêveszaal (the Room of Treaties) in the Binnenhof. Meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister, or an acting Prime Minister if necessary. The Council makes decisions in a collegial manner; all ministers, including the Prime Minister, are (theoretically) equal. Behind the closed doors of the Trêveszaal, ministers can freely debate proposed decisions and express their opinion on any aspect of cabinet policy. Once a decision is made by the Council, all individual members are bound by it and are obliged to support it publicly. A member of Cabinet who is not prepared to publicly support a decision of the Council is obliged to step down. Typically, a good deal of effort is put into reaching relative consensus on any decision. A process of voting within the Council does exist, but is hardly ever used.

Together with the King, the Council of Ministers forms the Government, which makes all the major decisions. In practice, the King does not participate in the daily decision-making of government, although he is kept up to date by weekly meetings with the Prime Minister. The Dutch constitution does not speak of cabinet, but instead only of the Council of Ministers and Government.

The ministers, individually and collectively (as cabinet), are responsible to the States-General for government policy and must enjoy its confidence. It is not possible for a minister to be a member of parliament. Ministers or state secretaries who are no longer supported by a parliamentary majority are also expected by convention to step down. In contrast to the Westminster system, Dutch ministers may not simultaneously also be members of the States-General, although members of the States-General can be appointed as ministers, whereupon their seats become vacant.

An important question is whether the relationship between the cabinet and parliament should be dualistic or monistic. That is, whether ministers and leaders of governing parliamentary parties should prepare important political decisions. According to the dualistic position, members of parliament of governing parties should function independently of the Cabinet. The monistic position, by contrast, is that the Cabinet plays an important role in proposing legislation and policy.

Formation[edit]

After a general election held generally every four years, or if a cabinet resigns during a parliamentary term, the process of cabinet formation starts. Because of the multi-party system of the Netherlands, no single party has had a majority in parliament since 1900, and formation of a coalition of two or often three parties is always necessary. This is a time-consuming process. The entire procedure is regulated by tradition and convention, with only the final appointment process specified by law.

Initially, the Dutch Monarch has secret individual meetings with the presidents of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the Vice-President of the Council of State. Next the Monarch has a meeting with the leader of each parliamentary party in the House of Representatives. This is followed by appointing an informateur who explores the options of a new cabinet. The informateur is often a relative outsider and a veteran politician, who has retired from active politics, perhaps a member of the Senate or Raad van State, though by convention he or she has a background in the largest party in the House of Representatives. The Monarch may appoint multiple informateurs, with backgrounds in other parties. The informateur is given a specific task by the King or Queen regnant, often to "seek a coalition of parties with programmatic agreement and a majority in parliament." The informateur has one-on-one meetings with the leaders of the parliamentary parties, and chairs sessions of negotiations between the chairs of parliamentary parties as they compromise in order to achieve agreement. If negotiations break down, a new informateur is appointed and the information process begins afresh.

Once an informateur is successful, the Monarch appoints the formateur, conventionally the leader of the largest party in the prospective coalition and the likely Prime Minister. He or she leads any remaining negotiations between those parties willing to cooperate to form a cabinet. Often, these negotiations cover the details of the program of policies, the composition of the Cabinet, and the division of Ministerial portfolios.

If the formateur is successful, the Monarch appoints all ministers and state secretaries individually by Royal Decision (Koninklijk Besluit). Each Minister privately swears an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. After this the entire Council of Ministers and the King or Queen regnant are photographed on the stairs of the palace Huis ten Bosch during the bordes scene. The new cabinet then proposes its plans to parliament.

Between the dissolution of the States-General before general elections and the appointment of a new Cabinet, the incumbent Cabinet is termed demissionair, that is, a caretaker government limiting itself to urgent and pressing matters and traditionally not taking any controversial decisions. If a Cabinet falls during a parliamentary term because one of the coalition partners withdraws its support, the coalition partner in question may leave. This does not result in a demissionair Cabinet, unless the Prime Minister is granted a dissolution of the States-General. Instead, the remaining parties in the governing coalition form a rompkabinet ("rump cabinet"). If the parties do not between them control a majority of the House of Representatives, the Cabinet continues as a minority government.

The formation is often considered as important as or even more important than the elections themselves. Because of the importance of negotiations, which can lead to policies that no party has promoted during the election, cabinet formations are sometimes seen as undemocratic. Recently it was attempted to make the process more democratic, with the formateur and informateur accounting for their actions before both the House of Representatives and the Dutch Monarch. Another source of discontent with this process is the role of the monarch in it.

Incumbent Cabinet[edit]

Ministers Title Term of office Party
Mark Rutte Drs.
Mark Rutte
(born 1967)
Prime Minister 14 October 2010 –
Incumbent
(retained)[i]
VVD
Minister of General Affairs
Hugo de Jonge Hugo de Jonge
(born 1977)
First Deputy Prime Minister 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CDA
Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport
Kajsa Ollongren Jkvr. Drs.
Kajsa Ollongren
(born 1967)
Second Deputy Prime Minister 26 October 2017 –
1 November 2019
(on leave)[ii]
D66
Wouter Koolmees Drs.
Wouter Koolmees
(born 1977)
1 November 2019 –
14 May 2020
(acting)[iii]
Kajsa Ollongren Jkvr. Drs.
Kajsa Ollongren
(born 1967)
14 May 2020 –
Incumbent
Carola Schouten Drs.
Carola Schouten
(born 1977)
Third Deputy Prime Minister 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CU
Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
Halbe Zijlstra Drs.
Halbe Zijlstra
(born 1969)
Minister of Foreign Affairs 26 October 2017 –
13 February 2018
(resigned)
VVD
Sigrid Kaag Sigrid Kaag
MA, MPhil
(born 1961)
13 February 2018 –
7 March 2018
(ad interim)
D66
Stef Blok Drs.
Stef Blok
(born 1964)
7 March 2018 –
Incumbent
VVD
Ferdinand Grapperhaus Mr. Dr.
Ferdinand Grapperhaus
(born 1959)
Minister of Justice and Security 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CDA
Kajsa Ollongren Jkvr. Drs.
Kajsa Ollongren
(born 1967)
Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations 26 October 2017 –
1 November 2019
(on leave)[ii]
D66
Raymond Knops Drs.
Raymond Knops
(born 1971)
1 November 2019 –
14 April 2020
(acting)[iii]
CDA
Kajsa Ollongren Jkvr. Drs.
Kajsa Ollongren
(born 1967)
14 April 2020 –
Incumbent
D66
Ingrid van Engelshoven Mr. Drs.
Ingrid van Engelshoven
(born 1966)
Minister of Education, Culture and Science 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
D66
Wopke Hoekstra 2019 (cropped).jpg Mr.
Wopke Hoekstra
MBA
(born 1975)
Minister of Finance 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CDA
Ank Bijleveld Drs.
Ank Bijleveld
(born 1962)
Minister of Defence 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CDA
Cora van Nieuwenhuizen Drs.
Cora van Nieuwenhuizen
(born 1963)
Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
VVD
Eric Wiebes Ir.
Eric Wiebes
MBA
(born 1963)
Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
VVD
Wouter Koolmees Drs.
Wouter Koolmees
(born 1977)
Minister of Social Affairs and Employment 26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
D66
Ministers without portfolio Title Term of office Party
Sigrid Kaag Sigrid Kaag
MA, MPhil
(born 1961)
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

within Foreign Affairs

26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
D66
Sander Dekker Drs.
Sander Dekker
(born 1975)
Minister for Legal Protection

within Justice and Security

26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
VVD
Arie Slob Drs.
Arie Slob
(born 1961)
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media

within Education, Culture and Science

26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CU
Bruno Bruins Mr. Drs.
Bruno Bruins
(born 1963)
Minister for Medical Care and Sport

within Health, Welfare and Sport

26 October 2017 –
19 March 2020
(resigned)
VVD
Martin van Rijn Drs.
Martin van Rijn
(born 1956)
23 March 2020 –
9 July 2020
(ad interim)
Indep.
[iv]
Tamara van Ark Drs.
Tamara van Ark
(born 1974)
9 July 2020 –
Incumbent
VVD
Ank Bijleveld Drs.
Ank Bijleveld
(born 1962)
Minister for the General Intelligence and Security Service

within Interior and Kingdom Relations

1 November 2019 –
14 April 2020
(acting)[iii]
CDA
Stientje van Veldhoven Drs.
Stientje van Veldhoven
(born 1973)
Minister for Environment and Housing

within Interior and Kingdom Relations

1 November 2019 –
14 April 2020
(acting)[iii]
D66
State Secretaries Title Portfolio Term of office Party
Mark Harbers Mark Harbers
(born 1969)
State Secretary for Justice and Security
(Minister for Migration)[v]
  • Integration
  • Immigration
  • Asylum Affairs
  • Minority Affairs
26 October 2017 –
21 May 2019
(resigned)
VVD
Ankie Broekers-Knol Mr.
Ankie Broekers-Knol
(born 1946)
11 July 2019 –
Incumbent
Raymond Knops Drs.
Raymond Knops
(born 1971)
State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations
  • Privatization Policy
  • Government Real Estate
  • Kingdom Relations
26 October 2017 –
1 November 2019
(appointed)[vi]
CDA
14 April 2020 –
Incumbent
Menno Snel Mr.
Menno Snel
(born 1970)
State Secretary for Finance
  • Fiscal Affairs
  • Tax and Customs Administration
  • Local Government Finances
  • National Mint
  • Gambling Policy
  • State Lottery
26 October 2017 –
18 December 2019
(resigned)
D66
Hans Vijlbrief Dr.
Hans Vijlbrief
(born 1963)
  • Fiscal Affairs
  • Tax Administration
  • Local Government Finances
  • National Mint
  • Gambling Policy
  • State Lottery
29 January 2020 –
Incumbent
Alexandra van Huffelen Drs.
Alexandra van Huffelen
(born 1968)
  • Benefits
  • Customs Administration
29 January 2020 –
Incumbent
Barbara Visser Drs.
Barbara Visser
(born 1977)
State Secretary for Defence
  • Personnel Affairs
  • Equipment Policy
  • Special Ops Policy
26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
VVD
Stientje van Veldhoven Drs.
Stientje van Veldhoven
(born 1973)
State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management
  • Transport Infrastructure
  • Public Transport
  • Energy Policy
  • Weather Forecasting Service
26 October 2017 –
1 November 2019
(appointed)[vii]
D66
14 April 2020 –
Incumbent
Mona Keijzer Mr. Drs.
Mona Keijzer
(born 1968)
State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
  • Small Business Policy
  • Retail Policy
  • Regional Development
  • Consumer Protection
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Postal Service
  • Tourism Affairs
26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CDA
Tamara van Ark Drs.
Tamara van Ark
(born 1974)
State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment
  • Social Security
  • Unemployment Affairs
  • Occupational Safety
  • Youth Policy
  • Poverty Policy
  • Equality
  • Emancipation
26 October 2017 –
9 July 2020
(appointed)[viii]
VVD
Bas van 't Wout Bas van 't Wout
(born 1979)
9 July 2020 –
Incumbent
Paul Blokhuis Drs.
Paul Blokhuis
(born 1963)
State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport
  • Elderly Policy
  • Disability Affairs
  • Veteran Affairs
26 October 2017 –
Incumbent
CU
Source: Rijksoverheid, Members of the government
  1. ^ Retained this position from the previous cabinet.
  2. ^ a b Kajsa Ollongren took an extended medical leave of absence on 1 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Served in an acting capacity due to the medical leave of absence of Kajsa Ollongren.
  4. ^ Martin van Rijn is a member of the Labour Party, but joined the cabinet independently as Minister for Medical Care (ad interim).
  5. ^ Allowed to use the title "Minister of Migration" while on foreign business.
  6. ^ Raymond Knops was appointed Minister for the Interior and Kingdom Relations (acting) on 1 November 2019.
  7. ^ Stientje van Veldhoven was appointed Minister for Environment and Housing (acting) on 1 November 2019.
  8. ^ Tamara van Ark was appointed Minister for Medical Care on 9 July 2019.

Ministries[edit]

There are now twelve ministries, all with their own Minister, there are also several Ministers without portfolio and in some ministries there is a State Secretary next to the Minister. The number of Ministers and State Secretaries and the division of their tasks may vary somewhat from one cabinet to another. The ministries are:

Ministries Responsibilities Agencies /
Independent Agencies
Minister Website
Ministry of General Affairs Ministry of General Affairs
(Dutch: Ministerie van
Algemene Zaken
)
AZ Government policyPlanning
InformationDutch royal house
Government Information Service
Scientific Council for Government Policy
Cabinet Office
Review Committee on the
Intelligence and Security Services
Mark Rutte
as Prime Minister
and
Minister of General Affairs
(in English)
Ministry of General Affairs
Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations

(Dutch: Ministerie van Binnenlandse
Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties
)
BZK Domestic policyCivil servicePublic administration
ElectionsLocal governments
IntelligenceKingdom Relations
Safety Board
General Intelligence and Security Service
PKIoverheid
Kajsa Ollongren
as Minister of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
(in English)
Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(Dutch: Ministerie van
Buitenlandse Zaken
)
BZ Foreign relationsForeign policyInternational development
International tradeEuropean UnionNATOBeneluxDiaspora
Diplomatic Service
Center for the Promotion of Imports
Stef Blok
as Minister of
Foreign Affairs
(in English)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Finance Ministry of Finance
(Dutch: Ministerie van Financiën)
FIN Economic policyMonetary policyFiscal policy
Tax policyIncomes policyFinancial market
RegulationsGovernment budget
Tax and Customs Administration
Fiscal Information and Investigation Service
Authority for the Financial Markets
Wopke Hoekstra
as Minister of Finance
(in English)
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Justice and Security Ministry of
Justice and Security

(Dutch: Ministerie van
Justitie en Veiligheid
)
J&V Justice systemLaw enforcementPublic security
Emergency managementCounter-terrorismImmigration policy
Legal aidDrug policyIncarcerations
National Police Services Agency
Public Prosecution Service
National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism
Forensic Institute
Immigration and Naturalisation Service
Custodial Institutions Agency
Ferdinand Grapperhaus
as Minister of Justice
and Security
(in English)
Ministry of Justice
and Security
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Ministry of Economic Affairs
and Climate Policy

(Dutch: Ministerie van Economische
Zaken en Klimaat
)
EZK Commercial policyEnergy policyEnvironmental policy
Climate change policyRenewable energy policyNuclear energy policy
Industrial policyInvestment policyTechnology policy
MiningTradeSpace policy
Natural resourceTourism
Foreign Investment Agency
Space Office
Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis
Department of Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards
Patent Office
Central Agency for Statistics
Environmental Assessment Agency
Eric Wiebes
as Minister of
Economic Affairs
and Climate Policy
(in English)
Ministry of Economic Affairs
and Climate Policy
Ministry of Defence Ministry of Defence
(Dutch: Ministerie van Defensie)
DEF Armed forcesMilitary policyNational securityVeterans Affairs
Military policeDefence diplomacyHumanitarian aid
Army
Navy
Air Force
Marechaussee
Coastguard
Military Intelligence and Security Service
Ank Bijleveld
as Minister of Defence
(in English)
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Ministry of Health,
Welfare and Sport

(Dutch: Ministerie van
Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport
)
VWS Health careHealth policyHealth insurance
Pharmaceutical policyVaccination policyWelfare
Biomedical sciencesSport
Institute for Public Health and the Environment
Health Care Inspectorate
Hugo de Jonge
as Minister of Health,
Welfare and Sport
(in English)
Ministry of Health,
Welfare and Sport
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment Ministry of Social Affairs
and Employment

(Dutch: Ministerie van Sociale Zaken
en Werkgelegenheid
)
SZW Social policyEmploymentLabour economics
Occupational safety and healthSocial security
Consumer protectionTrades unionsTrade associationsEmancipation
Social and Economic Council
Inspectorate SZW
Wouter Koolmees
as Minister of
Social Affairs
and Employment
(in English)
Ministry of Social Affairs
and Employment
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Ministry of Education,
Culture and Science

(Dutch: Ministerie van Onderwijs,
Cultuur en Wetenschap
)
OCW Education policyCultural policyScience policy
Knowledge policyResearchInnovation
ArtGender equalityCommunicationMedia
Public Broadcasting Agency
National Archives
National Library
Equal Treatment Commission
Ingrid van Engelshoven
as Minister of Education,
Culture and Science
(in English)
Ministry of Education,
Culture and Science
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management

(Dutch: Ministerie van Infrastructuur
en Waterstaat
)
I&W TransportAviationHousing policyPublic works
Spatial planningLand managementWater Management
Rijkswaterstaat
Driving License and Certificates Agency
Meteorological Institute
Cora van Nieuwenhuizen
as Minister of
Infrastructure and
Water Management
(in English)
Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Ministry of Agriculture,
Nature and Food Quality

(Dutch: Ministerie van Landbouw,
Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit
)
LNV Agricultural policyFood policyFood safetyFisheries
Natural conservationForestryAnimal welfare
Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority Carola Schouten
as Minister of Agriculture,
Nature and Food Quality
(in English)
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature
and Food Quality


History[edit]

The first real cabinet was formed in 1848 after a constitution was adopted which limited the power of the King and introduced the principle of ministerial responsibility to parliament. Until 1888 cabinets lacked a real coordinating role, and instead ministers were focused on their own department. After 1888 cabinets became more political.

Of the thirty coalition governments since World War II, only three excluded the largest party (all three times PvdA) and the largest number of parties in a coalition was 5 (in 1971 and 1973). After that, the three major Christian-democratic parties merged into CDA, and 2- or 3-party coalitions became standard.

Since 1945 there have been thirty cabinets, which were headed by 15 Prime Ministers. Willem Drees and Jan Peter Balkenende both chaired the most cabinets (four) and Ruud Lubbers served as Prime Minister the longest (between 1982 and 1994). The second Rutte cabinet was the longest lasting cabinet since World War II (1,816 days); only the cabinet led by Theo Heemskerk sat longer (2025 days). The first Balkenende cabinet is the shortest lasting normal cabinet since World War II (87 days); only the fifth cabinet of Hendrikus Colijn lasted shorter (10 days).

Council of Ministers of the Kingdom[edit]

The Cabinet of the Netherlands also takes responsibility for day-to-day affairs in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is distinct from the Netherlands, as it also includes the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. If affairs are decided which are of vital importance of the Kingdom as a whole, the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands is joined by one Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba and one for the other Antilles to form the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom.

Types[edit]

There are different types of cabinets:

  • A demissionary cabinet (demissionair kabinet) is a caretaker government during the election campaign and the formation of a new cabinet.
  • An extra-parliamentary cabinet (extraparlementair kabinet) not based on a parliamentary majority. The last extra-parliamentary cabinet was the Den Uyl cabinet. It consisted of members of the three progressive parties (the social democratic PvdA, the social liberal D66, and the progressive Christian PPR) and progressive members from the Christian democratic ARP and KVP. It is contrasted with a parliamentary cabinet, which does have an explicit majority in parliament.
  • A rump cabinet (rompkabinet) is the continuation of a Dutch cabinet when it has lost a coalition partner, typically a form of minority government, where the cabinet has not become demissionary, but seeks support from a majority of parliament to finish the work that was already introduced by the cabinet to the parliament. Normally the Dutch Monarch will call for dissolution of parliament somewhat later, since the basis behind the coalition agreement is gone.
  • A broad basis cabinet (brede basiskabinet) is an oversized coalition or national cabinet. Between 1945 and 1959, several cabinets have included more parties than were necessary for a parliamentary majority. The first one of which was the Schermerhorn cabinet. Other parties were included to give the cabinet and its far-reaching proposals, like the formation of a welfare state, a broad basis in parliament and society. The core of these cabinets were formed by the social democratic PvdA and the catholic KVP, the Roman/Red alliance which by themselves had a large majority in parliament.

See also[edit]

References[edit]