14 September 2023
On the third Tuesday of September each year, the Government of the Netherlands presents its financial plans for the coming year. This day is called Prinsjesdag and it will take place on 19 September this year. But what about this year? If you have been following the recent news, you know that due to the current coalition government stepping down in July due to migration policy disputes, the Netherlands currently has no central government. How does that work? Prinsjesdag with a caretaker national government?

Prinsjesdag is referred to in English as Prince’s Day, Budget Day or the State Opening of Parliament. It’s actually all three. Koning Willem-Alexander reads the financial plans in the form of a Speech from the Throne (Troonrede) during a session of the Joint Session of the States General (Verenigde Vergadering van de Staten-Generaal); that is the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) and Senate (Eerste Kamer) together. On that day, the Minister of Finance presents the House of Representatives with the national budget (rijksbegroting) and the Budget Memorandum (Miljoenennota). This opens the new parliamentary year.

Outgoing cabinet

A caretaker government (demissionair kabinet) is not expected to take major political decisions. It will not send major (legislative) proposals to the House of Representatives for consideration, and (legislative) proposals that are already pending will not be finalised until after the national elections in November and resulting cabinet formation.

Prinsjesdag traditions remain intact

The reading of the Speech from the Throne on Prinsjesdag is enshrined in the Constitution (Grondwet). The budget cycle that starts with this always continues. The country's financial management requires budgets to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Even when the cabinet is outgoing and thus only deals with current affairs, all these things have to happen.

By the way, since the year 2000, this is the sixth time there has been a caretaker government on Prinsjesdag.

Regardless of what is happening politically, the tradition of Prinsjesdag remains intact. The royal couple's carriage ride (rijtoer van het koningspaar) through the centre of Den Haag, the reading of the Speech from the Throne and the presentation of the briefcase (het koffertje) containing the documents by the Minister of Finance to the House of Representatives: hundreds of thousands of people will follow this again on the third Tuesday of September.