The State of Democracy assessment in the Netherlands was instigated by the government after the popular rejection of the EU constitution and two prominent political assassinations in 2005. These events generated political turbulence and a vibrant public debate on the functioning of political institutions and practices in the Netherlands. After translating the assessment questions into Dutch, the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations involved 250 NGOs, journalists and civil servants in the assessment in order to record the situation and promote discussion on democracy and the need for reform. The final report was published in 2006.
The assessment revealed the need to reconsider issues such as Dutch citizenship and how the government represents the needs and democratic aspirations of the population. In addition, public debates were held about freedom of speech, the structure of government, the media and citizenship. An interactive web-based forum was established for online debate, and the media reported frequently on the report’s findings and the ensuing discussions. Finally, a ministerial-level conference was held to outline steps for the future, which included three broad reforms: a ‘charter for responsible citizenship’, technical changes to the constitution and a pledge to reduce the complexity of government processes.