Support in Chamber for SP plan corrective referendum

The referendum makes a cautious comeback. A majority in the House of Representatives is positive about the own-initiative law of SP’er Ronald van Raak to make a binding, corrective referendum possible. Citizens will then be able to rectify the political situation and vote away adopted laws afterwards.

A large part of the opposition parties are for, and also the government parties D66 and ChristenUnie tend to support.

The fact that there is a majority in the House of Representatives is a first step. Because this is an amendment to the constitution, it has to be voted on again by both Houses of Parliament after the elections and then a two-thirds majority is needed. Only then is the corrective referendum a fact.


The Netherlands had a consultative referendum, but that was abolished by the current cabinet. After the consultations on the European Constitution, the Association Agreement with Ukraine and the Intelligence Services Act, the conclusion was that the remedy ‘had not brought what was expected of it’

But meanwhile the wind seems to be blowing in the other direction. “The referendum is like cleavers. The harder the politics shake it off, the more it sticks. Until we accept it,” said MP Van Raak in the Chamber, where he defended his initiative. According to him, the Netherlands is now ready to introduce the referendum.

The referendum complements parliamentary democracy, Van Raak believes. “If people can correct us, they will trust us more.” He also referred to the recommendations of the state commission led by former minister Remkes, who also sees room for this renewal of the system.

Interior Minister Ollongren said on behalf of the cabinet that she will not block the initiative, but she believes there are drawbacks to the remedy. For example, there is a good chance that a large group of the population will be disappointed, which in turn can lead to tensions. And it can be very difficult for politicians to determine exactly why the population voted against a law, the minister thinks.

Validity threshold

But the coalition is also enthusiastic about the SP proposal, although there are still questions about the level of the validity threshold. The Remkes Committee proposed that at least one third of all Dutch citizens entitled to vote must have cast a negative vote in favour of a valid result.

The Christian Union wants an even higher threshold, and wants to enshrine it in the Constitution. But Van Raak does not want to do that. He believes that such an outcome threshold does not belong in the Constitution, but should later be laid down in a separate law, which should also be adopted by a two-thirds majority.

Nevertheless, ChristenUnie MP Stieneke van der Graaf submitted an amendment proposal. “This is a precondition for us,” she said. How heavy that weighs in the end, should become clear on September 22nd. That’s when the vote on Van Raak’s own-initiative law is scheduled.

A simple majority is therefore still sufficient. There is currently no two-thirds majority, but supporters hope that this will be different after the elections.