The parliament consists of two chambers. The Lower House (Dutch: Tweede Kamer, or Second Chamber) is elected every four years in a direct national elections together with the provincial parliaments.
It consists of 150 members. Only the political parties can take part in the elections.
The lower chamber approves the budget and has the right of the legal initiative, the right of submitting amendments, the right to start its own inquires and the right of interpellation.
The members of the provincial parliaments vote for the less important Senate (Dutch: Eerste Kamer, or First Chamber) consisting of 75 members who approve or reject all laws of the Netherlands without the right of amendment.
Together, the First and Second Chamber constitute The Estates-General (Dutch: Staten Generaal, established 1593). In fact, Dutch political system gives a lot of freedom to the government, as long as it has support of the parliament.
Head of state – The Queen
Queen Beatrix van Oranje-Nassau (Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard van Oranje-Nassau) is the nominal head of state of the Netherlands.
The Queen has several mostly representative functions. She nominates all the mayors in the Netherlands as well as the politician who forms the government after the general elections. The monarch also signs all the laws approved by the parliament.
The Netherlands is usually governed by a coalition of different political parties. Prime minister is usually coming from the party, which won the most seats in the elections.
Usually the Queen gives the leader of the party, which won the elections, or an important politician coming from this party, the task of forming the new government. The constitution does not permit to a member of the parliament to serve in the government.
The council of ministers leads the country’s policy, the minister together with junior ministers govern.
The council of ministers with the Queen form together the Crown, an organ which nominates the members of the State Council (Dutch: Raad van State), an institution with influence on certain decisions and more important nominations.
Prime Minister is the head of the government. Jan Peter Balkenende from the CDA Party (Christian Democrats) is at present the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.