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Lesson 13 - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15


13 (dertien) click to hear - het ongeluksgetal click to hear ('the unlucky number') - (het) bijgeloof click to hear 2 ('superstition')
(het) voorgevoel click to hear ('premonition') - (het) voorteken click to hear ('omen') - (de) zwarte kat click to hear 2 3 ('black cat') - even afkloppen click to hear 2 3 ('knock on wood') click to hear
(de) waarzegster click to hear 2 ("truth-teller" - 'fortune teller, psychic' - female) - (de) helderziende click to hear 2 ('clairvoyant, psychic')
(het) medium click to hear 2 ('medium' - conduit to the dead)

The Lady of Stavoren - The Passive Voice - Word Order (2) - Grams and Kilograms to Ounces and Pounds - Elections, Parties and Government in Holland

Superstition Words
Listen
The Passive Voice
Word Order
Metric and Imperial: Weight
Elections and Government in Holland

- An old Dutch folktale, rewritten by me from childhood memory.
The Lady of Stavoren
Het Vrouwtje van Stavoren click to hear

There was a time that Stavoren, Friesland was a prosperous port.
Stavoren was ooit een welvarend havenstadje in Friesland. click to hear
It is said the houses of the richest merchants had golden doorknobs and marble doorsteps.
Men zegt dat de huizen van de rijkste kooplieden gouden deurknoppen hadden, en stoepen van marmer. click to hear
Every year more ships docked in the harbor, and people came from near and far looking for work and a better life.
Elk jaar legden er meer schepen aan in de haven, en van heinde en verre kwamen er mensen naar toe, op zoek naar werk en een beter leven. click to hear 2

One of the wealthiest people in town was a woman who always wanted the best of everything.
Een van de rijkste inwoners was een vrouw voor wie alleen het beste goed genoeg was. click to hear
One day she called in her most trusted captain.
Op een dag riep ze haar meest vertrouwde kapitein bij zich. click to hear
"Right now, they're loading your ship with gold," she said, "and I want you to buy the most expensive item in the world, so everyone in town will know how wealthy I am.

"Ik laat je schip volladen met goud," zei ze, "en ik wil dat je voor mij het kostbaarste koopt dat er op de wereld bestaat, om iedereen in de stad te laten zien hoe rijk ik ben. click to hear
"The most valuable item in the world - not a few random nice things for my house, but really that one thing that is the most expensive."
"Het meest waardevolle dat er op de wereld is - niet hier en daar iets leuks om mijn huis mooier te maken, maar echt dat ene ding dat het duurste is." click to hear

The captain sailed the seven seas to all ports he knew and saw many beautiful things.
De kapitein voer over de zeven zeeën naar alle havens die hij kende en zag veel mooie dingen. click to hear
He visited craftsmen that had exotic wood furniture, wood carving and ivory, tailors that had beautiful clothes of silk and velvet, and gold- and silversmiths that had jewelry with pearls and diamonds.
Hij bezocht handwerkslieden met meubels van zeldzaam hout, houtsnijwerk en ivoor, kleermakers met prachtige kleren van zijde en fluweel, en edelsmeden met schitterende sieraden van goud en zilver met parels en diamanten. click to hear 2
Painters, sculptors and dealers showed him artworks, but he kept asking himself, is this really the most valuable on earth? Is this what the Lady wants?
Schilders, beeldhouwers en handelaren lieten hem kunstwerken zien, maar steeds weer vroeg hij zich af: Is dit echt het meest kostbare dat er is op aarde? Is dit wat de Vrouwe wil hebben? click to hear

Looking at the gold bars in the ship's hold, he started to wonder what actually was more beautiful than gold itself: What is of more value?
Als hij in het ruim van het schip naar de opgestapelde baren goud ging kijken, begon hij zich af te vragen wat er eigenlijk mooier was dan goud zelf: Wat is van meer waarde? click to hear 2
He kept on searching for a while, but couldn't find the one item that was without doubt the most valuable on earth, and he felt there was other way than to return home empty-handed.
Hij zocht nog een tijd verder, maar vond niet iets dat zonder twijfel het meest kostbare op aarde was, en hij zag geen andere mogelijkheid dan onverrichter zake naar huis terug te keren. click to hear
"What's more beautiful than gold itself?" was what he would tell the lady.
"Wat is mooier dan goud zelf?" zou hij de vrouwe zeggen. click to hear
But sailing along the Baltic coast he saw the ripening grain on the fields ripple in the wind, and then understood this was what he had been looking for all along.
Maar op de kust van de Oostzee zag hij vanaf het schip in het glooiende land het rijpende graan op de velden wuiven in de wind, en toen begreep hij dat dit het was wat hij al die tijd gezocht had. click to hear

The harbor lookout sent a boy into town when he saw the ship approaching.
De uitkijk bij de haven stuurde een jongen het stadje in toen hij het schip aan zag komen. click to hear
Soon, half the town was waiting on the quay.
Al gauw stond de halve bevolking van het stadje op de kade. click to hear
"Skipper, what are you bringing me?" the lady of Stavoren said.
"Schipper, wat heb je voor me meegenomen," zei het vrouwtje van Stavoren. click to hear
The skipper pulled a handful of wheat from a pocket of his coat.
De schipper haalde een handvol graankorrels uit een zak van z'n jasje. click to hear
"The golden grain - there is nothing more precious on earth - for what is more important than our daily bread, the staff of life?"
"Het gouden graan - het waardevolste op aarde - want wat is belangrijker dan ons dagelijks brood?" click to hear
For a moment, the woman looked at him incredulously, and then she became very angry. "You idiot," she cried, "Throw it overboard."
De vrouw keek hem even aan alsof ze het niet kon geloven en barstte toen in woede uit.
"Idioot," schreeuwde ze, "Gooi het overboord." click to hear
"No, no!" the harbor master quickly said. "We don't throw things overboard in the harbor."
"Nee, nee," zei de havenmeester snel, "We kunnen geen dingen overboord gooien in de haven." click to hear
"Then leave port and throw it into the sea," the woman said.
"Vaar dan uit en gooi het in zee," zei de vrouw. click to hear
"But Ma'am, can't we give it to the poor?" the captain asked
"Mevrouw, kunnen we het niet aan de armen geven?" vroeg de kapitein. click to hear
"No," the woman said, "Throw it into the sea."
"Nee," zei de vrouw, "Gooi het in zee." click to hear 2
"But imagine that you'd be poor yourself," the captain said.
"Maar stelt U zich eens voor dat U zelf arm zou zijn," zei de kapitein. click to hear
The woman took a ring with a large diamond from a finger and angrily threw it far away into the water. "It's more likely that I'll see that ring back than that I'd ever be poor," she said.
De vrouw nam een ring met een grote edelsteen van een vinger en gooide hem woedend ver weg het het water in. "Ik zal nog eerder die ring terugzien dan dat ik ooit arm zou worden." click to hear

A few days later there was a frightening shriek from the kitchen of the lady of Stavoren, and a cook was running through the house, "Ma'am, Ma'm ... I was cleaning fish ... your ring ... in the belly of a fish."
Een paar dagen later klonk er een ijselijke gil uit de keuken van het vrouwtje van Stavoren en een kokkin rende door het huis, "Mevrouw, mevrouw ... ik was vissen aan het schoonmaken ... Uw ring ... in de buik van een vis." click to hear 2

Over the next weeks, skippers said that where the grain had been dumped the water was turning greenish. Was the grain sprouting?
In de weken daarna zeiden schippers dat waar het graan gestort was het water een beetje groen leek. Begon het graan te ontkiemen? click to hear
A sandbank developed, and it was getting more and more difficult for ships to enter the harbor.
Er vormde zich een zandbank, en het werd steeds moeilijker voor schepen om de haven binnen te komen. click to hear
After a few years, only small ships put into port anymore.
Na een paar jaar kwamen er alleen nog kleine schepen. click to hear
The great merchants and many of the harbor workets left, the golden doorknobs disappeared and it became very quiet.
De grote handelaren en veel van de havenwerkers vertrokken naar elders, de gouden deurknoppen verdwenen en het werd er heel rustig. click to hear
The Lady of Stavoren didn't leave. She still wandered around town for years, dressed in black.
Het vrouwtje van Stavoren ging niet weg. Ze dwaalde nog jaren door het stadje, geheel in het zwart gekleed. click to hear
Geef ons heden ons dagelijks brood click to hear
Give us this day our daily bread
>> The Lord's Prayer
[a handful of grain]
het gouden graan click to hear 2

[a loaf of bread]
'n brood click to hear
[Map showing the location of Stavoren in The Netherlands ]
Stavoren click to hear in The Netherlands

Verbs: The Passive Voice

As I've said before, I am not a grammarian, and don't plan to become one. In these lessons I'm just trying to explain structures to people who want to learn a little Dutch. Grammatical terms are used in a loose sense. (>> Dutch grammar words)

In the passive form (lijdende vorm click to hear) the object is passively subjected to an activity: The book is read. or The house was built. In Dutch, the passive form uses the auxiliary verb 'worden' with a past participle - English uses 'to be' and that may be a bit confusing.
active: Ik verf het huis click to hear ('I'm painting the house')
passive: Het huis wordt geverfd click to hear ('The house is being painted')
passive: Het huis wordt door mij geverfd click to hear ('The house is being painted by me')
passive: Ik word geschopt door Jan click to hear ('I am kicked by John')

ik word
jij wordt
hij wordt
wij worden
jullie worden
zij worden
U wordt
click to hear
(I am)
(you are)
(he is)
(we are)
(you are)
(they are)
(you are)

word ik?
word jij?
wordt hij?
worden wij?
worden jullie?
worden zij?
wordt U?
click to hear
(am I?)
(are you?)
(is he?)
(are we?)
(are you?)
(are they?)
(are you?)

ik werd
jij werd
hij werd
wij werden
jullie werden
zij werden
U werd
click to hear
(I was)
(you were)
(he was)
(we were)
(you were)
(they were)
(you were)


(you - singular, informal)


(you - plural, informal)

(you - polite)

Do note that word and wordt are pronounced exactly the same. D at the end of a word is pronounced as T and 'double' consonants are rarely pronounced with a pause in between. ik word click to hear 2 hij wordt click to hear 2

Ik word gevraagd click to hear 2 ('I am asked')
Ik werd gevraagd click to hear 2 ('I was asked')
Hij werd gemarteld click to hear 2 ('he was tortured')
De bal wordt geschopt click to hear ('the ball is kicked')
De bal werd geschopt click to hear 2 ('the ball was kicked')
De bal werd door Jan in het doel geschopt click to hear 2 ('The ball was kicked into the goal by Jan')
De bal wordt in het doel geschoten click to hear 2 ('The ball is shot into the goal')
Er wordt gebeld click to hear 2 ('the bell is rung' - there is someone at the door)
An often-heard complaint is:
"Ik word geleefd." click to hear [I am lived] ~ 'I have no life of my own.'

The perfect tense of the passive voice uses 'zijn' (to be) - and (unlike in German) the past participle geworden click to hear 2 is usually dropped:
het huis wordt geverfd click to hear ('the house is being painted')
het huis is geverfd geworden click to hear ('the house has been painted')
Ik ben geschopt geworden click to hear ('I have been kicked')

Ik ben gevraagd geworden click to hear 2 ('I have been asked' - to perform a task, or fill a position or job)
Not to be confused with:
Ik heb gevraagd click to hear 2 ('I have asked' - I have put a question)

Ik heb gegeten click to hear ('I have eaten')
The ghost of a cow or pig could say:
Ik ben gegeten geworden click to hear ('I was eaten')

English uses 'to be' for the passive form. Confusion may arise because Dutch uses 'zijn' (to be) as the auxiliary verb for the perfect tense of some verbs.
Note the different use of 'is' in English and Dutch in the following sentences:
Hij wordt door een wesp gestoken! click to hear ('He is being stung by a wasp' - right this moment)
Hij is door een wesp gestoken geworden click to hear ('He has been stung by a wasp' - some time ago)
Ik werd afgeleid click to hear 2 (I was distracted)

'Worden' is also used in the sense of 'to become,' and in that meaning the past participle geworden click to hear 2 does appear, when appropriate:
Wat is er van hem geworden? click to hear 2 ('Whatever became of him?')
"Wat wil je later worden?" click to hear ('What do you want to be when you grow up?')
't Wordt donker click to hear ('It is getting dark')

<< previous - verbs central - next >>

Word Order (2)

Basic Sentences
The Complement
The Object
The Indirect Object
Combining Object and Complement
Simple Questions

Simple, Basic Sentences

Very simple sentences can just be a subject (onderwerp click to hear) and a verb (werkwoord click to hear) in that order - very much like in English.

subject verb

Zij zingt. click to hear She sings.
Hij rookt. click to hear 2 He smokes.
De tijd vliegt. click to hear Time flies.
Het concert begon. click to hear The concert started.
De trein vertrok. click to hear 2 The train left.
Het touw brak. click to hear 2 The rope broke.
Een hond blafte. click to hear A dog barked.
De bom ontplofte. click to hear 2 The bomb exploded.
De zon schijnt. click to hear The sun [shines] is shining.
't Regent. click to hear It [rains] is raining.
Katten spinnen. click to hear Cats purr.
Katten blazen. click to hear 2 Cats hiss.
Honden grommen. click to hear Dogs growl.
Varkens knorren. click to hear Pigs oink.
Slangen sissen. click to hear Snakes hiss.
Het and its abbreviated form 't can mean It - like in 't Regent , or it can be the article (the - next to de). When apostrophe-T 't is the first word of a sentence, the second word is capitalized.
As you can see in some of the examples, Dutch often just has a simple verb where English uses the continuous (is ...-ing.) A later lesson will show a Dutch grammar figure to indicate ongoing activity. >>

Adding A Complement

To make a statement more interesting and/or informative, add something like an adverb. Some grammarians call this part of the sentence a complement.

subject verb complement

't Regende hard. click to hear It was raining hard.
Hij is oud. click to hear He is old.
't Was koud. click to hear It was cold.
't Werd koud. click to hear It [became] turned cold.
't Water is koud. click to hear The water is cold
De appels zijn groen. click to hear The apples are green.
Hij was jarig. click to hear [He had] It was his birthday.
Het is te druk. click to hear 2 It is too busy.
Het was te veel. click to hear It was too much.
Wij waren arm. click to hear We were poor.
Zij waren rijk. click to hear They were rich.
Zij waren te laat. click to hear They were too late.
De koffie is klaar. click to hear Coffee is ready.
Ik ben ziek. click to hear 2 I am sick.
Zij zingt mooi. click to hear She sings beautifully.
Hij zingt vals. click to hear 2 [He is singing] His singing is off-pitch.
Hij lacht hard. click to hear He is laughing loudly.
Wij lachen luid. click to hear We laugh loudly.
De boot vaart snel. click to hear The boat sails/moves quickly.
Hij werkt hard. click to hear He works hard.
Ik loop langzaam. click to hear I'm walking slowly.
Ze zwemt snel. click to hear She [swims fast] is a fast swimmer.
Het duurt lang. click to hear It takes [long] a long time.
Het gaat goed. click to hear It [goes] is going well.
De winter was lang. click to hear 2 3 Winter [was] lasted long.
Het houten huis is heel oud. click to hear The wooden house is very old.

Adding Objects

A sentence can be more meaningful when an object is added to the subject and verb.

subject verb object

Ik zei: "Nee." click to hear I said: "No."
Hij schopt de bal. click to hear He kicks the ball.
Ik schopte een bal. click to hear 2 I kicked a ball.
Ik hoor een vliegtuig. click to hear I hear a plane.
Ik had een wapenbroeder. click to hear I had a brother-in-arms.
Hij eet een appel. click to hear He [eats] is eating an apple.
Zij leest een boek. click to hear She [reads] is reading a book.
Hij drinkt een kopje thee. click to hear He [drinks] is having a cup of tea.
Ik verf het huis. click to hear I'm painting the house.
Zij zingt een lied. click to hear She is singing a song.
Zij is een zangeres. click to hear She is a singer.
Ik heb hoofdpijn. click to hear I have a headache.
Ik ben 1 meter 80. click to hear I am 1 meter 80 centimeters (5'11") [ tall.]
Hij speelt gitaar. click to hear He plays the guitar.
Hij stemt de gitaar. click to hear He is tuning the guitar
Hij speelt een akkoord. click to hear He plays a chord.
Zij speelt saxofoon. click to hear She plays the saxophone.
Ik had geluk. click to hear I was lucky.
Hij drinkt bier. click to hear He is drinking beer.
De raket trof een kleuterschool. click to hear The rocket hit a nursery school.
[a painting of a Dutch house]
De ramen hebben luiken.
click to hear 2
The windows have shutters.

The Indirect Object

Actually, there are two kinds of objects. The most common, and the one in the examples above, is called the 'direct object' in English, and in Dutch (often fittingly) lijdend voorwerp click to hear ('suffering entity/object.')
The second class of objects is called the 'indirect object' in English, and meewerkend voorwerp click to hear ('cooperating entity/object') in Dutch. It's usually found in sentences with verbs like 'to give' (geven click to hear 2), 'to say' (zeggen click to
  hear) and 'to tell' (vertellen click to hear), that describe someone receiving something. Its usual position is right after the verb, before the direct object.

subject verb indirect object direct object

Jan geeft Piet een boek. click to hear Jan gives Piet a book.
Karel geeft Elly een ring. click to hear Karel gives [Elly a ring] a ring to Elly. (ring for finger)
Het geeft de mensen hoop. click to hear It gives the people hope.
Ik vertel je de waarheid. click to hear I'm telling you the truth.
Het is mij een genoegen .... click to hear [It is a pleasure to me ...] It is with pleasure that I ...
Ik geef Marietje bloemen. click to hear I'm giving Marietje flowers.

You may find the indirect object preceded by prepositions like 'for' or 'to' - but then both Dutch and English place it after the direct object.

subject verb direct object indirect object with preposition

Jan geeft een boek aan Piet click to hear Jan gives a book to Piet.
Ik geef bloemen aan Marietje click to hear I'm giving flowers to Marietje.
Zij zingen een lied voor mij. click to hear 2 They are singing a song for me.
Do note that zij and ze can mean both 'she' and 'they' - but you can tell the difference because the verb form is different for plural and singular:
Zij zingt een lied. click to hear She is singing a song.

Combining Object and Complement

If there is both a 'complement' and an object, the object ususally comes first, right after the verb, like in English.

subject verb object complement

Hij schopt de bal hard. click to hear He kicks the ball hard. (?)
Hij schopt de bal heel hard. click to hear He kicks the ball very hard. (?)
Hij verft het houten huis wit. click to hear 2 He is painting the wooden house white.
Honger maakt rauwe bonen zoet click to hear 2 3 Hunger makes raw beans [taste] sweet.
Ik kende die mensen goed. click to hear 2 I knew those people well.
Hij bedoelt 't goed. click to hear 2 He means [it] well.

But unfortunately it's not always as straightforward as in English. It looks like the complement is put before the object when the object doesn't have a definite article, when it is a general statement. You'll notice the use of the article is not exactly the same in English as in Dutch.

Hij speelt heel goed gitaar. click to hear 2 He plays the guitar very well.
Je spreekt goed Nederlands. click to hear 2 You speak Dutch well.
Ik gaf haar snel een knipoogje. click to hear I quickly [gave her a wink] winked at her.
Hij vertelde ons snel een paar mopjes. click to hear 2 He quickly told us a few jokes.
Hij drinkt snel een biertje. click to hear 2 He is quickly drinking a beer, he quickly has a beer.
But regular: Hij verfde het huis snel click to hear 2 He quickly painted the house, he painted the house quickly.
It's maybe not very important, not many sentences are like this, but to say 'Hij speelt gitaar goed' or 'Je spreekt Nederlands goed' is not good Dutch.

Question Mode (simple sentences)

Turn the verb and subject around to make a statement sentence into a question.
In speaking, the sentence melody changes to a higher pitch at the end:
Er is wat brood over. click to hear ('There is some bread left.')
Is er wat brood over? click to hear ('Is there any bread left?')
exaggerated: Is er wat brood over? click to hear

When talking with friends and acquaintances, you'll use the informal 'je' or 'jij.' Do note that in the present tense for those words (the second person singular, informal) the T is dropped from the verb when it comes before the personal pronoun:

ben je boos? click to hear 2 are you angry?
je bent boos click to hear 2 you are angry
heb je genoeg geld? click to hear do you have enough money?
je hebt genoeg geld click to hear 2 you have enough money

verb subject (object) (complement)

Ben je ziek? click to hear Are you sick?
Ben je bang? click to hear Are you afraid?
Is het te laat? click to hear Is it too late?
Was je moe? click to hear Were you tired?
In English, turning around verb and object for question mode only works for to be (other verbs add to do)
- but in Dutch all verbs can be turned around for question mode.
Regent 't? click to hear Is it raining?
Schijnt de zon? click to hear Is the sun shining?
Ga jij? click to hear 2 [Go you?] Are you going? (Like, to an event)
Heb je honger? click to hear Are you hungry?
Heb je hoofdpijn? click to hear 2 Do you have a headache?
Heb je een auto? click to hear Do you have a car?
Heeft Jan een auto? click to hear 2 Does John have a car?
Had je een lekke band? click to hear Did you have a flat tire?
Hadden jullie pech? click to hear [Did you have bad luck?] Usually, this means: Did your car break down?
Verveel je je? click to hear Are you bored? (informal) >> reflexive verbs
Verveelt U zich? click to hear Are you bored? (polite)
Zijn de appels groen? click to hear 2 Are the apples green?
Zijn de bananen nog groen? click to hear Are the bananas still green?
Zijn de bananen al geel? click to hear 2 Are the bananas already yellow?
"Heeft U bananen?" - "Nee." click to hear "Do you have bananas?" - "No."
Er zijn geen bananen. click to hear There are no bananas.
"Heeft U sinaasappels?" - "Ja." click to hear "Do you have oranges?" - "Yes."
Er zijn wel sinaasappels. click to hear [Yes] we do have oranges.

<< previous - word order central - next >>

Ambiguous

The following Dutch sentence is a rare example of confusion between subject and object:
Het land dat God vergat. click to hear It could mean either:
The country that God forgot. (The country forgotten by God.) or:
The country that forgot God.

Metric and Imperial: Weight

ounces to grams (g)

[a bar chart comparing imperial and metric dimensions]

1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 gram = 0.035 ounces
[a bar chart comparing imperial and metric dimensions]
16 ounces = 1 pound = 453 grams = 0.453 kilograms
1 kilogram = 1000 grams = 2.205 pounds = 35.27 ounces

pounds to kilograms (kg)

[a bar chart comparing imperial and metric dimensions]

1 pound = 0.453 kilograms
1 kilogram = 2.205 pounds
The old English weight stone (14 Lb) is 6.35 kg
more dimensions

[a bar chart comparing imperial and metric dimensions]

(het) gewicht click to hear ('weight')
(de) massa click to hear 2 ('mass')
(het) milligram click to hear 2
1mg = 1/1000 g
(de/het) gram click to hear
g
(de) kilogram click to hear 2 = (de/het) kilo click to hear 2
1 kg = 1000 g
(de) ton click to hear
(1 ton = 1000 kilograms)
In Dutch, the units of measure are rarely used in the plural (except in time.)
1 kilo, 2 kilo click to hear 2 - 500 gram click to hear 2
pond click to hear (500 grams, about 1 pound) ons click to hear 2 (100 grams, about 3 ounces)
Though widely used, pond and ons are not official weights.
Een ons ham click to hear 2 3 ('100 grams, about 3 ounces of ham')
Een pond kaas click to hear 2 ('500 grams, about a pound of cheese')
Elk pondje gaat door 't mondje. click to hear ('Every pound passes through the mouth.' - dieting slogan.)
<< - numbers, simple math and dimensions - >>

Elections, Political Parties and Government in Holland

In Holland, on separate 4-year cycles, there are elections for
  • city government: de gemeenteraad click to hear 2 ('city council')
  • provincial government: de Provinciale Staten click to hear
  • national government: De Tweede Kamer click to hear 2 ('The Second Chamber')
In recent years, elections for het Europarlement click to hear have been added.

For the national government, Holland has a 'bicameral system,' like the UK and the US. The 150-seat 'Second Chamber' (De Tweede Kamer click to hear 2) is comparable to the US House of Representatives or the UK House of Commons. Governments need to have the support of a majority in the Second Chamber.
Next to the 'Second Chamber' is de Eerste Kamer click to hear ('The First Chamber,') also called de Senaat click to hear 2, somewhat like the English House of Lords, but (even relatively speaking) far less powerful than the American Senate. It is indirectly chosen, by the Province Representatives, and membership is not a full-time job. Laws are discussed and voted on in the Second Chamber, and then passed on to the First Chamber for approval; the First Chamber only votes on laws, and cannot propose or amend laws. In a famous case in the early 1970s, the delegates of the (so-called) 'liberal' party VVD in the First Chamber voted against a liberal abortion law, showing that their party is really not liberal but conservative.
(de) abortus click to hear 2 abortion

Holland does not have a district system where the majority in a district chooses the delegate and the minority is not represented. All the votes count towards national totals. There are 150 seats in the Second Chamber, so 0.67% of the national vote means one seat. Turnout for the national elections is usually between 70 and 80%, and one seat requires about 65.000 votes. Parties representing small groups in Dutch society usually have a few seats in the Second Chamber.


After elections, the queen used to consult with the party leaders and appoint an informateur click to hear 2 (usually an elder politician) to find common ground and explore possible compromises between parties, to create a coalition that will have a majority in the Second Chamber - but now the queen will no longer be involved with the process. Instead, the outgoing Second Chamber appoints a verkenner click to hear ('scout') to start the consultations, and the new 'Second Chamber' appoints one or more informateurs.
A concept program for the next government may be prepared: (het) regeerakkoord click to hear 2. Next, a formateur click to hear 2 will be appointed, usually the next prime minister: (de) premier click to hear /or/ (de) minister-president click to hear 2, who will form a cabinet (het) kabinet click to hear 2, his team of ministers and secretaries. Occasionally, a coalition falls apart, and then usually new elections will be called.

In the 1977 elections, labor PvdA gained 10 seats, for a total of 53 seats, its best result ever. Christian-Democrat CDA won 49 seats, and the conservative VVD 28. A Labor-led government was expected, but the concessions demanded by Christian-Democrat leader Dries van Agt click to hear 2 were unacceptable to the Labor party, though party leader Joop den Uyl click to hear 2 was willing to go ahead with Van Agt. In the end the Christian-Democrats formed a government coalition with the conservative party. Sad, but not undemocratic.

The 2010-2012 coalition government of Conservatives and Christian-Democrats was supported by Mr Wilders' party, who did not have ministers in the cabinet. This support is called (de) gedoogsteun click to hear

(de) partij click to hear ('political party') - plural: partijen click to hear
(de) meerderheid click to hear 2 ('majority')
(de) regering click to hear ('the government, the cabinet')
(de) stembus click to hear ('ballot box') - stemmen click to hear 2 ('to vote') the complete verb
"Heb je al gestemd?" click to hear 2 'Did you vote already?'
"Ik heb nog niet gestemd." click to hear 'I have not voted yet.'
"Wie heeft de verkiezingen gewonnen?" click to hear 'Who has won the elections?'

Party Name, Party Leader number of seats Position - website
199820022003 2006201020122017
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD) click to hear Mark Rutte click to hear 3824 282231 41 33 conservative - >>
Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) click to hear 2 Lodewijk Asscher click to hear 2 4523 423230 38 9 labor - >>
Partij voor de Vrijheid click to
    hear Geert Wilders click to hear 2 -- -924 15 20 right-wing, concerned about extremist tendencies in Islam - >>
Socialistische Partij click to hear 2 Emile Roemer click to hear 59 92615 15 14 left-wing, grassroots; has never been in government - >>
Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) click to hear 2 Sybrand Buma click to hear 2
(Sybrand van Haersma Buma click to hear 2)
2943 444121 1319 christian-democrats, centrist - >>
D66 - Democraten '66 click to hear 2 Alexander Pechtold click to hear 147 6310 12 19 used to be left-wing liberals - >>
Christen Unie click to hear 2 Gert-Jan Segers click to hear 2 (5)4 365 5 5 christian, mixed on left/right - >>
Groen Links click to
    hear Jesse Klaver click to hear 2 (3) - de Jessias click to hear 2 1110 8710 4 14 left-wing, environmentalist - >>
Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) click to hear Kees van der Staaij click to hear 32 222 3 3 orthodox protestant - >>
Partij voor de Dieren click to
    hear Marianne Thieme click to hear -- -22 2 5 animal rights - >>
50+ ('Vijftig Plus') click to hear 2 Henk Krol click to hear 2 -- --- 2 4 old people, pensioners - >>
Denk click to hear 2 3 Tunahan Kuzu -- --- - 3 Turkish, Muslim - >>
Forum voor Democratie click to hear 2 3 Thierry Baudet click to hear 2 3 -- --- - 2 referendums, less politics, business, organic - >>
Fortuyn click to hear 2 Pim Fortuyn click to hear 2 (2002) Olaf Stuger (2003) -26 8-- - - right-wing
others -2 --- - -
_______________ ______
150150150150150 150 150
more: election results over the years - Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (The Dutch Statistics Office)
Party Leaders who retired over the last years:
PvdA: Job Cohen click to hear 2 (PvdA) - Diederik Samsom click to hear 2
CDA: Maxime Verhagen click to hear 2
Socialistische Partij: Jan Marijnissen click to hear
Groen Links: Femke Halsema click to hear - Jolande Sap click to hear 2 - Bram van Ojik click to hear 2
Christen Unie: André Rouvoet click to hear - Arie Slob click to hear 2

The three mainstream Christian parties:
  • (de) Katholieke Volkspartij (KVP) click to hear 2 ('katholiek' click to hear Roman catholic)
  • (de) Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (ARP) click to hear 2 ('gereformeerd' click to hear somewhat strict protestant)
  • (de) Christelijk-Historische Unie (CHU) click to hear 2 ('hervormd' click to hear somewhat less strict protestant)
entered the 1977 elections with one list of candidates, and formally became one party in 1980, (het) Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) click to hear 2.
From 1918 till the 1990s, those Christian parties had taken part in every government, in coalitions with either labor or the conservatives (occasionally one of the original three parties stayed out); but in the 1990s there were two paars click to hear (paars/paarse click to hear 2 - 'purple') cabinets of labor and conservatives, without the Christian Democrats.

The great changes in support for the traditional parties and the emergence of new parties in recent elections show that the voters are unhappy and looking for new answers. The upheavals of the late 1960s resulted in two new parties, de Boerenpartij click to hear 2 ("the peasants' party") led by Boer Koekoek click to hear 2 of Bennekom click to hear who one year got 8 seats in parliament, but the party broke up quickly. D'66 was a more serious party with new ideas like referendums and elected majors, and is still represented in parliament.
Before the 2002 elections, many people were hoping Pim Fortuyn click to hear 2 would bring a new style and fresh ideas to Dutch politics. The country was shocked when two weeks before the elections he was murdered (by an animal-rights activist) - Holland's first political assassination in more than 300 years. His party won big, but lacked a leader and fell apart. Mr. Fortuyn would probably have brought great changes to Dutch politics. (Two years later, film maker Theo van Gogh click to hear was murdered by an islamist.)


The 17th-Century Dutch Republic was not a democracy. In 1581 the Dutch revolutionaries stated their reasons for leaving the rule of the King of Spain in a document called het Plakkaat van Verlatinghe click to hear 2 - also called de Acte van Verlatinghe click to hear ('the Act of Abjuration.') It said the king should be to his people like a father to his children, but the Spanish king had turned into a tyrant. The declaration also stated that ultimately power belonged to local authorities, not to the king - a step in the right direction. Those local authorites were the city rulers, mostly families long-serving in government. Some rich merchants and leaders of the revolution joined the ruling class; nobility only played a very small role after the Middle Ages. The descendants of the leader of the Dutch revolution William of Orange (Willem van Oranje click to hear nicknamed Willem de Zwijger click to hear 'William The Silent') had the title of stadhouder click to hear - something like a heriditary presidency. Some of their opponents lost their lives in power struggles. Only after the French occupation (1795-1813) did the Orange-Nassau family become the royal rulers of the Netherlands, but already during that 19th century reformers like Thorbecke click to
hear greatly reduced the King's power, and Holland became a parliamentary democracy. Presently, the only practical power the queen has is her role in the formation of government coalitions and in the appointments of high civil servants and military officers.
The first government elections in Holland were early in the 19th Century, and like in the early days of the US, only a small percentage of the male population was considered qualified to vote, measured by education level and tax payments. In the 1890s, 50% of Dutch male citizens voted, in 1917 all male Dutchmen and in 1919 all Dutch women were given the right to vote in elections. Actually, until the 1960s, voting was not just a right: (het) stemrecht click to hear 2 - but a duty: (de) stemplicht click to hear - failure to vote was punishable by a fine. Only citizens can vote in Dutch national elections, but foreigners may vote in City elections after five years' legal residency.
The formal meeting hall of the Dutch parliament
[Formal meeting hall of the Dutch parliament]
De Ridderzaal click to hear 2 ("the knights' hall") on het Binnenhof click to hear 2 ('the inner court') in Den Haag click to hear 2 ('The Hague')
painting by Billy Eric © 2010 all rights reserved
On the third Tuesday in September, the queen presents the government's plans for the next year (de) miljoenennota click to hear 2 (mostly financing and spending) in a speech to de Staten-Generaal click to hear 2 (the First and Second Chamber combined) called (de) troonrede click to hear 2 at de Ridderzaal click to hear 2 in The Hague. Amsterdam click to hear is formally the capital of The Netherlands, but parliament meets in The Hague, and most of the government departments are in that city. >> maps
A Few Postwar Politicians - politicus / politici click to hear 2 'politician'/'politicians'
Willem Aantjes click to hear
(ARP/CDA)

Marcus Bakker click to hear 2
(Communist Party CPN)

Barend Biesheuvel click to hear
(ARP)

Jaap Boersma click to hear 2
(ARP/CDA)

Jo Cals click to hear
(KVP)

Pim Fortuyn click to hear 2

Hans Gruijters click to hear
(D'66)

Piet de Jong click to hear 2 3
(KVP)

Wim Kok click to hear 2
(PvdA)

Ruud Lubbers click to hear 2
(CDA)

Jozef Luns click to hear
(KVP)

Hans van Mierlo click to hear
(D'66)

Ed Nijpels click to hear 2
(VVD)

Norbert Schmelzer click to hear
(KVP) (last name is German)

Jan Terlouw click to hear 2
(D'66)

Joop den Uyl click to hear 2
(PvdA)

Hans Wiegel click to hear 2
(VVD)

In English, 'the government' means two things, that Dutch has separate words for:
  1. the prime minister or president and his ministers or secretaries, the small group at the top that takes the most important decisions, also called 'the cabinet.' In Dutch: (de) regering click to hear - or also the less common (het) kabinet click to hear 2.
  2. all the govenment departments and administration bodies, the whole government bureaucracy. This is called de overheid click to hear 2 in Dutch, or more colloquially 't Rijk click to hear 2 for all Dutch government institutions together.
    Het Rijksmuseum click to hear 2 3 'the national museum' (in Amsterdam) that a.o. houses Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch'
    (de) rijksuniversiteit click to hear 'national, government-funded university'
Written from memory of books, history lessons and newspaper articles. Recently read books, and facts checked in:
Moerman, Geïllustreerde Vaderlandse Geschiedenis (Van Holkema & Warendorf, Amsterdam 1960)
Hans van der Horst: Nederland (Bert Bakker, Amsterdam 2005)
Geert Mak: De Eeuw van Mijn Vader (Atlas, Amsterdam 1999)

Democracy (democratie click to hear) is more than having elections (verkiezingen click to hear.) It requires equality (gelijkheid click to hear) between people, leaving the choice to each individual, and not with men (always men) that tell you how to vote because they feel they have a natural right to govern and/or claim to be closer to God than the common people. Alle mensen zijn gelijk click to hear ('all people are equal.')
Elections should be free and fair, and voters need to be able to make an informed choice, which requires freedom of expression (vrijheid van meningsuiting click to hear) and the related freedom of the press (persvrijheid click to hear 2) and freedom to meet and discuss any issues (vrijheid van vergadering click to hear 2.) Other important liberties are freedom of religion (godsdienstvrijheid click to hear) and freedom of conscience (gewetensvrijheid click to hear) which means the freedom to leave or change your religion.
Democracy also requires protection for minorities. Should people who think their ideology gives them more rights than others have the vote? I think not. Should criminals have the vote? I think not.
Could we vote to limit the rights of, expel or exterminate a harmless minority? Could it be democratically decided to abolish democracy? I hope not.
Should we allow immigration by groups hostile to freedom, equality and democracy, and give those immigrants the vote?

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Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2