Arjen Nijeboer

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The Netherlands has a complicated relationship with direct democracy. Polls have shown that since the late 1960s, large majorities of the population have consistently supported the introduction of referendums, most recently in a 2018 survey revealing that 70 percent were in favor. What’s more, every government-installed expert commission on institutional reform, since the 1980s, has proposed introducing citizen-initiated referendums. And yet, the Dutch constitution has remained extremely hard to change. Every serious attempt at reform has been smothered, typically by the institutional conservatism of center-right parties and now, ironically, by the very progressive parties that pushed for them.

The most recent example of this occurred on July 10 when a tiny majority of the Dutch Parliament abolished its three-year-old national referendum law, which allowed citizens to initiate a non-binding referendum on most laws and treaties newly approved by Parliament, so long as there were at least 300,000 signatures in support.…  Seguir leyendo »