A petition, backed by 30 NGOs, companies, public affairs organisations and scientists is calling on the Dutch House of Representatives to invest more in its staff. The organisations claim the Dutch Parliament is not investing enough in itself which harms our democracy. The petition ‘Support the House, Strengthen Democracy’, will be handed over to Parliament.
With 150 members of the house of representatives and 75 senators the Netherlands has only thirteen MPs per one million residents. That is fewer than in all Scandinavian countries, the UK, Ireland, France and Belgium. With on average only one staffer per MP there is a lot of pressure on MPs with all the debates, work visits and emails from citizens and organizations. Because of the election results the average size of a party in Parliament is decreasing and this means MPs are responsible for bigger and more issues. At the same time MPs sit in Parliament for a shorter amount of time, which shortens Parliamentary memory. The imbalance between staff that support the executive branch and Parliament is enormous and issues are growing ever more complex.
The signatories see that parliament feels hesitant to address the issue of their own understaffing. In the petition the signatories ask parliament to reserve more financial means for extra policy assistants. Serious investment in Parliamentary staff is needed to prevent a reduction in the quality of work from MPs. Voters should be able to expect more from their representatives, journalists must be able to hold our Parliament to account, lobbyists should be allowed time to argue on behalf of their issues and civil servants and ministers want to see themselves controlled by Parliament.
Open State Foundation assistant-director Tom Kunzler has launched this petition and written a column about his experiences working in Parliament and with MP’s staff. He called on organisations to back this petition.
The petition has already been backed by organisations like Hivos, Cordaid, Waag, BKB and several public affairs associations.
- NGOs: Open State Foundation, Waag, Wemos, Hivos, Cordaid, Landelijk Samenwerkingsverband Actieve Bewoners, Kennisland, Open Nederland, MVO Nederland;
- Other organizations: BKB | Het Campagnebureau, Periklesinstituut, Argu, HollandBio, Jonge Democraten, 1848 b.v.;
- Public affairs organizations: Wallaart & Kusse Public Affairs, Thonon Folz Public Affairs, Wepublic, EPPA, IVCB, Mondegreen Strategische Communicatie, Jochem Beunderman, Considerati, Drea Berghorst, Klimbie Public Affairs, KH Legal Advice, AD REM Debat & Strategie, TASvW;
- Scientists: Instituut Maatschappelijke Innovatie, Arco Timmermans (bijzonder hoogleraar Public Affairs).
This article is a summary of the Dutch version of this article.