Here’s an updated and more complete chronology regarding the Dutch citizens assembly on reforming the electoral system.
Governmental Reform and Kingdom Relations Minister Alexander Pechtold sends out 50,000 letters, with names randomly selected, to potential citizens assembly members. Note that this a correction of the 100,000 figure used in my last e-mail on this.
3,600 respondents indicate a willingness to participate in one of the informational meetings. (Exact number: 3,644).
3,200 show up at one of the nine regional informational meetings.
1,700 of those attending the meetings request that they be a candidate for the Assembly. (Exact number: 1,706).
Note that these numbers are rounded to the hundreds place.
140 are randomly selected on March 13, 2006. The names were to be drawn on March 11 but there was a logistical snafu (some postal codes didn’t match the provinces) leading to a two day delay.
The resulting assembly consists of 70 men and 70 women selected based on population density of the 12 provinces. The distribution over the age groups is as follows:
The final distribution is broadly representative of the Netherlands on the basis of age, sex, region, and socio-economic status. But there is under representation of foreign people and those with irregular work schedules (e.g., certain people in the health care industry).
Phase 1, Learning, March-June
Five meetings on weekends from Friday evening through Saturday.
On Friday the 24th, the assembly will meet for the first time and will be installed officially by Minster Pechtold (Governmental Reform) and Minister Zalm (Finance & Vice Prime Minister).
March 24/25: Education
April 7/8: Education
April 21/22: Education
May 12/13: Education
June 9/10: Education & Deliberations
(June 23/24: Extra weekend if necessary)
Phase 2, Consultations, June-September
Full citizens assembly in recess.
Local meetings with interested individuals and organizations
Phase 3, Deliberations, September-October
Deliberations among citizens assembly members followed by a vote .
September 1/2: Decision making/debating
September 29/30: Decision making
October 20/21: Final meeting, publication of advisory report
(November 10/11: Extra weekend if necessary)
Unlike the British Columbia and proposed California citizens assembly, this is the end of the process. There is no referendum, just a recommendation sent to the government. If the current coalition in power is no longer in power late in the fall when the assembly issues its report, then the recommendations will more likely be ignored. A small party in the ruling coalition is the main advocate of the citizens assembly.
Here is a link to the Dutch citizens assembly site: www.burgerforumkiesstelsel.nl