Prime Minister of the Netherlands


May 17, 2022

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands is the chairman of the Council of Ministers. He is also Minister of General Affairs. The Prime Minister bears ministerial responsibility for the actions of the members of the Royal House. He also represents the Netherlands in the European Council. Mark Rutte has held this position since 14 October 2010. Since 1945, the term 'Prime Minister' has been spoken of. Before that, the post was called 'Chairman of the Council of Ministers'. The word prime minister is often used informally.


The position of the minister and the prime minister was determined by the constitutional reform of 1848, although the first prime minister dates from shortly before that constitutional amendment. It was then established that the ministers were responsible to the States General (First and Second Chamber) and that the king was inviolable. Before this time, the ministers were answerable to the king. From 1848, the Netherlands has therefore had a parliamentary system with elected representatives of the people. The people were from now on sovereign. The Netherlands did not yet have democracy in the current sense, because there was census suffrage. Since 1945, the President of the Council of Ministers has been referred to as Prime Minister in the appointment decision. In 1983, the position of Prime Minister was included in the Constitution. Although there are no formal rules for this, the premiership usually falls to the largest ruling party. In the post-war years, this has sometimes been deviated from, but since 1973 it has not happened that the Prime Minister came from a smaller government party. In most cases, the prime minister has also been the formateur of his cabinet. Only when he has succeeded in the formation of a cabinet will he accept the order of His Majesty the King to form. The Prime Minister is politically responsible for the entire cabinet formation process. He is accountable to the House of Representatives when pronouncing the government statement.

Appointment and dismissal

The Prime Minister is appointed and dismissed by Royal Decree (Article 43 of the Constitution). Initially, the king appointed and dismissed ministers 'at will' and took responsibility for this himself. This changed with the arrival of ministerial responsibility in the period 1840-1848. Until the comprehensive constitutional reform of 1983, it was customary for a minister or prime minister to return to the new cabinet to countersign the appointment and dismissal decisions. In theory, this practice could pose a problem if no ministers returned to the new cabinet. This problem does not arise in Belgium because it is customary there for the retiring Prime Minister to countersign the appointment decree of his successor, after which the new Prime Minister signs the resignation of his predecessor. Since 1983, Article 48 of the Constitution provides that the Royal Decree by which the Minister President is appointed, partly by himself (i.e. the new Prime Minister) is signed. There is also no nomination by the outgoing Prime Minister for the Royal Decree. As a result, the king can again appoint persons as prime minister at his own discretion. To date, however, the King has only appointed persons as Prime Minister who also enjoy the confidence of the States General.

Duties and Powers

President of the Council of Ministers

The Prime Minister has a number of powers under the Rules of Procedure for the Council of Ministers. Among other things, he sets the agenda of the Council of Ministers, chairs it and supervises the implementation of the decisions. In the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister can be replaced by a Deputy Prime Minister (unofficial Deputy Prime Minister). Ministers who hold this position always do so in addition to their own portfolio. Usually deputy prime ministers belong to the other coalition partners