Speaker of the Senate Jan Anthonie Bruijn spoke on Monday, January 15, during the traditional New Year’s reception of King Willem-Alexander in the Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Bruijn spoke, among other things, about the elections of the past year and the elections for the European Parliament in June of this year. He also discussed the Constitution, which has formed the basis for the Dutch constitutional state for more than two centuries.
Last year it was celebrated that the constitutional revision was 175 years old. Not only have there been other thorough revisions after 1848, the Constitution is also amended almost every year. A year ago, for examplewhen ‘disability’ and ‘sexual orientation’ were added to Article 1 as grounds for non-discrimination.
“Old, but very much alive,” says Bruijn. He continued: “Discussions about the Constitution on which the structure of our society is based are still current today. The rule of law and parliamentary democracy have proven their value, but they also need to be maintained and strengthened in order to be future-proof Just like the dikes that protect us from the water.”
According to former Member of Parliament Willem Witteveen who died in the MH17 disaster in 2014, the rule of law is not a peaceful possession, not a house in which we can sleep without worries. He argued for protecting the democratic constitutional state in which citizens can criticize the government and trust that they will be treated decently.
Bruijn: “An encouragement that still deserves our follow-up. Both by parliament and by the current outgoing cabinet and the forming parties.”
This year marks ten years since flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine. Bruijn reflected on the dismay and sadness that affected Dutch society at the time. Ukraine has now been at war with Russia for almost two years. And conflicts elsewhere in the world also cost the lives of many people every day.
The Senate President: “Peace is not self-evident or without obligation. Peace is a shared responsibility on which all parties must continue to work. However, peace seems to be far away in Ukraine, but also in Israel and Gaza, and elsewhere in the world. Yet I speak expresses the wish that all parties take responsibility to find a solution together.”
He concluded his speech with a toast: “To responsibility, connection and peace.”
The post first appeared on www.eerstekamer.nl