/ neðərləndz /
Prevedi Netherlands na: francuski · nemački
A constitutional monarchy in northwestern Europe; half the country lies below sea level; Also called: The Netherlands, Holland.
The, Country in W Europe on the North Sea, bounded E by Germany and S by Belgium.
The Netherlands is a hereditary monarchy. Its constitution 1983, based on that of 1814, provides for a two-chamber legislature called the States-General, consisting of a First Chamber of 75 and a Second Chamber of 150. Members of the First Chamber are indirectly elected by representatives of 12 provincial councils for a four-year term. Members of the Second Chamber are elected by universal adult suffrage, through a system of proportional representation, also for a four-year term. Legislation is introduced and bills amended in the Second Chamber, while the First has the right to approve or reject.
The monarch appoints a prime minister as head of government, and the prime minister chooses the cabinet. Cabinet members are not permitted to be members of the legislature, but they may attend its meetings and take part in debates, and they are collectively responsible to it. There is also a council of state, the government's oldest advisory body, whose members are intended to represent a broad cross section of the country's life, and include former politicians, scholars, judges, and business people, all appointed for life. The sovereign is its formal president but appoints a vice president to chair it.
Although not a federal state, the Netherlands gives considerable autonomy to its 11 provinces, each of which has an appointed governor and an elected council.
The land south of the Rhine, inhabited by Celts and Germanic peoples, was brought under Roman rule by Julius Caesar as governor of Gaul 51 BC. The Franks followed, and their kings subdued the Frisians and Saxons north of the Rhine in the 7th–8th centuries and imposed Christianity on them. After the empire of Charlemagne broke up, the local feudal lords, headed by the count of Holland and the bishop of Utrecht, became practically independent, although they owed nominal allegiance to the German or Holy Roman Empire. Many Dutch towns during the Middle Ages became prosperous trading centers, usually ruled by small groups of merchants. In the 15th century the Netherlands or Low Countries (Holland, Belgium, Flanders) passed to the dukes of Burgundy, and in 1504 to the Spanish Hapsburgs.
war of independence
The Dutch opposed the economic demands of the Spanish crown and rebelled from 1568 against the tyranny of the Catholic Philip II of Spain. William the Silent, Prince of Orange, and his sons Maurice (1567–1625) and Frederick Henry (1584–1647) were the leaders of the revolt and of a confederation established by the Union of Utrecht 1579 which created the (seven northern) United Provinces. The south (now Belgium and Luxembourg) was reconquered by Spain, but not the north, and in 1648 its independence as the Dutch Republic was finally recognized under the Treaty of Westphalia. A long struggle followed between the Orangist or popular party, which favored centralization under the Prince of Orange as chief magistrate or stadholder, and the oligarchical or states’ rights party. The latter, headed by Johann de Witt, seized control 1650, but William of Orange (William III of England) recovered the stadholderate with the French invasion 1672.
Despite the long war of independence, during the early 17th century the Dutch led the world in trade, art, and science, and founded an empire in the East and West Indies. Commercial and colonial rivalries led to naval wars with England 1652–54, 1665–67, and 1672–74. Thereafter until 1713 Dutch history was dominated by a struggle with France under Louis XIV. These wars exhausted the Netherlands, which in the 18th century ceased to be a great power. The French revolutionary army was welcomed 1795 and created the Batavian Republic. In 1806 Napoleon made his brother Louis king of Holland and 1810–13 annexed the country to France. The Congress of Vienna united N and S Netherlands under King William I (son of Prince William V of Orange), but the south broke away 1830 to become independent Belgium.
cooperation with neighbors
Under William I (reigned 1814–40), William II (1840–49), William III (1849–90), and Queen Wilhelmina (1890–1948), the Netherlands followed a path of strict neutrality, but its brutal occupation by Germany 1940–45 persuaded it to adopt a policy of cooperation with its neighbors. It became a member of the Western European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Benelux customs union, the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and the European Economic Community. In 1980 Queen Juliana, who had reigned since 1948, abdicated in favor of her eldest daughter, Beatrix.
The granting of independence to former colonies (Indonesia 1949, with the addition of W New Guinea 1963; Surinam 1975; see also Netherlands Antilles) increased immigration and unemployment.
All governments since 1945 have been coalitions, with the parties differing mainly over economic policies. In the Sept 1989 elections, fought largely on environmental issues, Ruud Lubbers's Christian Democrats won the most parliamentary seats. Lubbers formed a coalition government with the Labour Party (PvdA). Both parties lost support in the May 1994 elections and eventually the PvdA leader, Wim Kok, formed a three-party coalition with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Democrats 66, both centrist in orientation.