One third of members of Parliament retire early

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A large number of Provincial States members throw in the towel before their term of office is over. Taken together, almost one-third of all members of Parliament retire within four years. And after those four years, another half quit. Chairman Harold van der Velde of Statenlidnu calls this a ‘terrible blow to the collective memory of the Provincial Council’.

According to Van der Velde, some of the members of Parliament retiring early can easily be explained: ‘Members of Parliament move on, for example, because they become deputies after the coalition negotiations. In addition, some are elected as aldermen somewhere in a municipality, so that is all quite logical.’

High workload

But Van der Velde – who is himself a member of the Zeeland States – also hears a different voice: ‘People literally fall over because of the work pressure,’ explains the chairman of Statenlidnu. ‘A Member of Parliament spends an average of 22 hours a week on this in addition to his normal job. And the compensation isn’t very high either’, explains Van der Velde. Combining work, the normal job and private life appears to be an addition that more and more members of Parliament find difficult.

You don’t have to go into politics to get rich. ‘

Harold van der Velde, chairman of the professional association Statenlidnu and member of the States of Zeeland.

The remuneration for the work as a Member of Parliament has recently been increased by almost 40 percent to approximately 1,895 euros gross per month. This often leaves about 900 euros because the Members of Parliament also receive income from other activities. ‘You don’t have to go into politics to get rich,’ says Van der Velde. ‘But you certainly don’t want the situation we’re in now, namely that Members of Parliament literally fall over.’

‘The Hague cheese dome’

Changing the work of the members of Parliament into a full-time job is not the solution, according to Van der Velde. ‘The charm of the members of parliament is that they still have one foot in working life. As a result, they hear a lot and that has advantages. The House of Representatives is sometimes referred to as the ‘Hague cheese dome’ and we don’t want a ‘Provincial cheese dome”, says Van der Velde.

But the chairman of Statennu sees that something has to change, because the outflow is ‘much too high’. In any case, it is good that the problem is now recognized, says Van der Velde. ‘In addition, it is an option to provide better support to parliamentary groups, for example, because now they often do the preliminary work themselves. We can also do more with training and it is also an option to optimize proposals and thus relieve the registry’, says Van der Velde. ‘It would be nice to implement those solutions simultaneously in all twelve provinces, otherwise we are all reinventing the wheel.’

A large number of members of parliament throw in the towel before their term of office is over. Taken together, almost one-third of all members of Parliament retire within four years. (ANP / REMKO DE WAAL)

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