Plasterk: Parliaments’ right of initiative not the remedy

THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk does not support the proposal of Aruba Member of Parliament Andin Bikker of the PDR party to grant individual Members of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten the right to submit Kingdom Law proposals in the Second Chamber. Neither does he back the idea of granting the right of initiative to the Parliaments as a whole.

Plasterk responded to the recent advice of the Council of State for the Kingdom on Bikker’s proposal. The Council last month advised against the right of initiative for individual members of the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments. Instead, the Council suggested, the right of initiative could be granted to the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments as a whole.

In his letter that Plasterk sent to the Dutch Parliament on Friday, he stated that, like the Council of State, he was of the opinion that the individual right of initiative would provide a new instrument that is already available to the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the Dutch Caribbean countries. In that sense, the instrument is not new, he added.

The Minister agreed with the Council of State that the Bikker proposal was a “meaningful step” towards the establishing of a Kingdom Parliament, which at the same time deviated from the existing structure and the constitutional relations within the Kingdom secured in the Kingdom Charter.

“The discussions regarding a Kingdom Parliament have been ongoing for a while. Consensus on the desired change of the structure will, considering the existing views which are hard to match, not be found easily,” stated Plasterk.

“Therefore, I agree with the Council that we have to avoid a discussion about changes to the structure which will take a lot of time and energy without a prospect of concrete results due to the existing differences of opinion, while in the meantime possibilities within the current Charter remain unused to a great extent,” stated the Minister.

Plasterk didn’t share the Council’s view that a possible alternative was to grant the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten the right of initiative as a whole. According to the Council, this option would better fit within the system of the Charter. This alternative would require an amendment to the Charter.

“With the already existing possibilities offered within the current Charter not or barely being used, I don’t see a pressing reason at this point in time to start the procedure to amend the Charter,” stated Plasterk.

The Minister emphasized the existing possibility, an option that was also mentioned by the Council State and 2009 Democratic Deficit Committee, that the Dutch Caribbean Parliaments can request their respective government to have the Minister Plenipotentiary make use of his authority to submit a law proposal to the Second Chamber.

In the last paragraph of his letter Plasterk noted that the advice of the Council of State was requested on the initiative of a Member of the Aruba Parliament and that it would be “interesting” to have a reaction of the Governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten to the Council’s advice.

Source: The Daily Herald