The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1815 as amended. The hereditary monarch is the head of state; the prime minister is the head of government. There is a bicameral legislature, the States General. Members of the deliberative upper house, the 75-seat First Chamber, are elected by the 12 provincial councils. Members of the more powerful lower house, the 150-seat Second Chamber, are popularly elected. All legislators serve four-year terms. The royal succession is settled on the house of Orange (see Nassau), which adheres to the Dutch Reformed Church. Administratively, the country is divided into 12 provinces.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.