The separation of powers is also called trias politica. This means that legislative, executive, and judicial powers in a country must lie with different institutions.
Separation of powers in the Netherlands
The separation of powers is often not so strictly regulated, not even in the Netherlands. Nowadays it is mainly about the distribution of legislative, executive, and judicial power. They can then check and correct each other. How is it arranged in practice in the Netherlands?
The legislative branch consists of the parliament and the government. Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Most bills come from the government. Parliament must then approve the bill, otherwise, it cannot become law. The House of Representatives can also come up with bills themselves, but that does not happen very often. In order to govern, the government needs the support of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives (and Senate). Parties that support the government usually adopt government bills. The other parties in parliament form the opposition. They are often more critical of the government.
The executive branch consists of the government. The government directs the ministries and their officials, who are involved in the implementation of laws. The executive branch must take into account the legislative branch. The executive branch is only allowed to carry out matters that are stipulated by law. Parliament controls the government. If the government doesn’t do its job properly, then parliament can overthrow the government. That means that the government must resign. There are usually new elections. This is the rule of trust between the government and parliament.
The judiciary in the Netherlands consists of the judges and the Public Prosecution Service. The judges administer justice on the basis of laws, treaties, customs, and previous judicial decisions (case law). In a constitutional state, a judge can also make a decision that is unfavorable to the government. Judges in the Netherlands are not allowed to test national laws against the constitution. The reason is that judges are not elected by the people. Judges are therefore not allowed to determine whether bills may become law. Judges do not belong to the legislature, and the Public Prosecution Service (OM) prosecutes suspects of a criminal offense. The Public Prosecution Service falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Security and Justice. The minister outlines how the Public Prosecution Service should work. That gives the minister (someone who belongs to the executive branch) a bit of influence.
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