The Netherlands is a democracy. In a democracy, residents elect the government of the country. During elections every Dutch person over the age of 18 may vote for anyone who has put themselves forward for election. Elections are free and confidential. This means that everyone may vote and that you never have to tell anyone who you voted for. For the Lower House, the local council and the Provincial States, elections are organised every four years. Every five years, elections are held for the European Parliament. Migrants from the European Union may vote for the local council in the municipality where they live. They may also vote for the European Parliament. Migrants from outside the European Union may only vote for the local council if they have lived in the Netherlands for five years. Only naturalised migrants, i.e. those who have Dutch nationality, may vote for the Lower House and the Provincial States. Furthermore, in general, people who can vote may also be voted into certain representative functions.
The Netherlands is a constitutional state. This means that everyone has the same rights and that everyone must abide by the same rules. The government must also abide by the law. If you are not in agreement with a government decision, you may submit an appeal or take legal action against the government. The government must accept the judge’s decision. You may also submit a complaint to the National Ombudsman. He can investigate the grounds for the complaint. The Dutch constitution (Grondwet) contains all of the rights and obligations of both government and citizens. Freedom, equality and solidarity are very important in the Dutch constitution .
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