. Translated from a 2012 Dutch text by the author, using suggestions by Google Translate.
When I recently reconsidered my proposal to make it easier to form governments, I feared that things would not go well in practice. The rules I suggested are:
But: the last rule of course must also apply to bills proposed from the House, also if it is by the opposition. In theory, therefore, changing alliances of opposition parties could always get laws passed (thanks to the support of the Empty Seats, agreed in advance and by definition), which thwart government policy.
That could lead to messiness and inconsistency that serves no purpose and helps nobody.
But in practice it won’t really be that bad, for the following reasons:
MPs are usually conscientious people. If they make a bill, they want to do it well. A proposal must meet high quality requirements, be sensible, internally consistent, fit in with other legislation, be enforceable, be implementable. It must also be suitable to obtain support from others than just the proposers. So it must be defendable.
Writing a good proposal is a lot of work.
It is therefore unlikely that bills will be introduced with the main or sole purpose of thwarting the incumbent government.
The Council of State (Raad van State, an independent advisory body for the government) beforehand, and the Senate afterwards, will still have their advisory, moderating and critical role indirectly enhancing quality. (Again: I think the system of Empty Seats system is suitable for the House of Representatives, but not for the Senate, if the Senate remains at all.)
Of the many occasional opposition coalitions that are possible under the new system, there are many that include parties that are also in the governing coalition. Those factions will not be inclined to participate in non-constructive actions meant only to harass the government.
Moreover, there is a good chance that such behaviour, if it does occur, will be remembered by voters, and punished.
Also considering a personal sense of responsibility of MPs – you might expect that to be above average – passing laws just to sabotage government policy is not an obvious choice.
I therefore rate my own concerns as unfounded. The theoretical possibility of what might happen, is not a valid argument against the proposal.
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