The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch. The national government has three major institutions:
· The Monarch
· The Council of Ministers (Cabinet)
· The State General (Parliament)
The Monarch is the representative head of state. The current Dutch monarch is Queen Beatrix. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has a role in the formation of the government and in the legislative process. The monarch does not have real political powers and is only the titular head of the state. The Monarch nominates mayors and political members who form the government after the general elections. The monarch also signs laws approved by the parliament. The parliament of the Netherlands has two houses - the upper house and the lower house. The upper house is the senate and the lower house is the House of Representatives.
The main political parties active in the Netherlands include:
· The Liberal Party (VVD),
· Labor Party (PvdA),
· Freedom Party (PVV),
· Christian Democratic Appeal Party (CDA)
The prime minister is Mark Rutte from the Liberal party and has been in office since October 2010.
In Dutch politics the change in government does not generally result in drastic changes in foreign or domestic policy.
Regulatory environment in Netherlands
The government in the Netherlands is based on a constitutional monarchy framework which means that the head of state is the representative of the people chosen by the people and is bound to govern by the constitutional laws.
The Netherlands economic freedom score is 74.7, making its economy the 15th freest in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom. Netherlands ranks 6th out of 43 regional countries in the Europe region. The Netherlands overall score is higher than the global and regional averages.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a survey to measure the perceived level of corruption across countries worldwide. The Netherlands is ranked 7th in 2010, indicating low corruption levels in the Netherlands. However, its ranking has slipped one position compared to the 2009 index. The Netherlands is less corrupt compared to neighbouring nations such as Belgium and Germany.
Freedom of information
The Netherlands adopted the Freedom of Information Act in 1978. This was replaced by the Act on public access to Government information in 1991. This act provides citizens access to documents in possession of various public organisation and companies working on behalf of the public organisations.
The Netherlands is ranked first along with five other countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2010, indicating the media in the Netherlands is free and not restricted.
The main newspapers circulated in the Netherlands include:
· Algemeen Dagblad
· NRC Handelsblad
· De Telegraaf
· De Volkskrant
· Het Parool
· Het Financieele Dagblad
· Vrij Nederland
The judiciary in the Netherlands consists of:
Supreme Court - based in the Hague, it is the highest court for civil, criminal and tax laws in the Netherlands
Special Tribunals- includes three special tribunals divided into specific areas of administrative law:
· Central Appeals Tribunal: is the highest authority related to social security and civil services and is based in Utrecht.
· Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal: is also known as the Administrative High Court for Trade and Industry. It hears cases related to social-economic disputes. and is based in the Hague.
· Administrative Jurisdiction Division of Council of State – is the highest administrative court in the Netherlands.
Courts of appeal
There are five areas the Court of Appeal covering jurisdiction over 19 districts. The Hague and Amsterdam are in the west, Arnhem in the east, s-Hertogenbosch in the south and Leeuwarden for the north.
The Netherlands is divided into 19 districts. Each district has its separate court, with each court taking up cases in the following sectors:
· Sub-district sector
· Criminal law sector
· Civil law/ family law sector
· Administrative law sector