At the beginning of the period of citizens and steam engines, the Netherlands was part of the Batavian Commonwealth. This republic was ruled by the State Government. This was a group of 12 people. The Batavian Commonwealth also had 35 ministers. They were all democratically elected. But in this period, only a very small part of the people had the right to vote.
Nevertheless, this form of government is already called a parliamentary democracy. Despite the fact that few citizens had the right to vote, the legislature was elected by them. So the real power was actually with the citizens. They elected parliament.
When William I of Orange-Nassau became king in 1815, a lot changed. The Netherlands was now called the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. This included the current Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The Netherlands had been in the hands of the French for the past 9 years. But the Russians, together with the Prussians, the Austrians and the Swedes, had defeated the French army at Leipzig. France now had to give back much of the territory they had once conquered. This is what they did.
The Netherlands was given a new States-General and a constitution. This was an important moment in history. The States-General consisted of two chambers. We call these rooms the first room and the second room. Together, this is parliament. The lower house met on new laws and taxes. From 1815 this was no longer allowed behind closed doors. This allowed the public to monitor whether they were really well represented in parliament.
The first constitution gave the king a great deal of power. For example, the king was allowed to choose the first room. The provinces elected the members of the lower house. However, the people were not fairly represented in the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives had 110 members. 55 were chosen by citizens from the Northern provinces. The other 55 were chosen by the citizens of the Southern provinces. But there were far more people living in the south than in the north. So the citizens of the north had more power than the citizens in the south.
It was not until 1848 that the people rebelled against the unfair constitution. King William II ordered the creation of a new constitution. Thanks to this new constitution, the king was no longer the chief executive. There was also an opportunity to call new elections. This was an important step in history. Freedom of expression was now enshrined in the constitution. The people were also given freedom of education and the printing press.
At the end of this period, the first political parties are formed. It was not until the late 1860s that the various political movements were given meaning. Out of these different movements, the different parties eventually grew. These parties did not have any candidates at first. Until 1896, you could vote for anyone. However, it proved more convenient if people first ran for election.