The Netherlands as a democracy

The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy. Dutch people can choose who represents them in parliament. The Netherlands is also a constitutional monarchy. The King’s position is laid down in the Constitution.

Head of state

The King is the head of state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Government and parliament

The King and the ministers together make up the government. The Prime Minister heads meetings with the ministers, who together form the cabinet. The ministers and state secretaries (junior ministers) govern the country and implement policy.

Parliament subjects the government to scrutiny. Every Dutch citizen with the right to vote can vote in parliamentary elections once they reach the age of 18. Voting is not compulsory in the Netherlands. Anyone aged 18 or older can also stand as a candidate for election.

You can read more about government and parliament at


The Constitution sets out the rules for the system of government in the Netherlands. It also lays down the fundamental rights of citizens.

The Caribbean parts of the Kingdom

The Kingdom consists of 4 countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands sets out the constitutional relationship between the countries within the Kingdom. 


Detailed information on Dutch history is available in the Dutch Canon. The Canon provides an overview of Dutch history based on 50 different 'windows' and 14 themes.