Tuesday, September 18, 2007

( the picture, made by Peter van Zetten, I found here )

Every year on the third Tuesday in September the Dutch parliamentary year is opened. That day is called Prinsjesdag. The name ( day of the little prince(s) ) was for unknown reasons taken from the holiday in honor of the birthday of stadtholder Willem V ( 1748 - 1806 ), which was March 8th. On Prinsjesdag the Queen leaves her palace at 1 PM and travels by carriage ( the golden coach, made in 1898 ) to the Parliament. In front of all members of the 1st and 2nd Chamber of Parliament ( the female members and other women who attend the ceremony often spruce themselves up, sometimes ridiculously) she reads the Queen's Speech, which traditionally starts with the words " Leden der Staten Generaal, " ( Members of the Parliament ). In this speech, written by the cabinet ministers, the government describes political and economic developments of the past year, and it states the goals for the coming year. Something like the State of the Union speech by the US President in January. At 3 PM the Minister of Finance presents the annual Budget to the 2nd Chamber of Parliament. He carries the budget ( with extensive explanatory notes, called the Miljoenennota ) in a small suitcase ( often a copy of the budget is already leaked to the press before Prinsjesdag ). On the Wednesday and Thursday following Prinsjesdag ( during the so-called Algemene Beschouwingen, or General Debate ) the members of the 2nd Chamber discuss the Queen's Speech and the budget with the government. This website ( sorry, only in Dutch ) deals with all aspects of the day. It is a bit of a puppetry, but it can be interesing to watch and follow the discussions and commentaries that precede and follow the whole circus.

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