King's Commissioner

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Map of the Netherlands, linking to the province articles.

The King’s Commissioner (Dutch: Commissaris van de Koning, abbr. to CvdK) is the head of a province in the Netherlands, who is chairman of both the Provincial-Council (PS: the directly elected provincial parliament) and the Provincial-Executive (GS: the executive branch), but has a right to vote only in the latter. When the reigning monarch is a female, the office is Queen’s Commissioner (Commissaris van de Koningin).

There are two levels of local government in the Netherlands: the provinces and the municipalities. The twelve provinces form the tier of administration between central government and the municipalities. The three tiers are organised in largely the same way, with a directly elected parliament, which in turn chooses the executive branch, headed by a non-democratically chosen chairman. On the national and municipal level, these are the king and the mayor, on the provincial level it is the King’s Commissioner.

Tasks of the King’s Commissioner

The King’s Commissioner is not elected by the residents of the province, but appointed by the Dutch Crown (the ministers, presided over by the monarch), for a term of six years, which may be extended by a second term. The King’s Commissioner can be dismissed only by the Dutch Crown. When a vacancy arises, the provincial council gives the Minister of the Interior a profile of the kind of candidate it would like to see in the job. Although all King’s Commissioners are prominent members of one or another of the major national political parties, their actions are expected to be politically impartial while they are in office.

The King’s Commissioners play a role within the provincial administration and are the official representatives of central government in the provinces. They coordinate disaster management and prevention and pay regular official visits to the municipalities in their region.

The King’s Commissioners play an important part in the appointment of municipal mayors. When a vacancy arises, the King’s Commissioner first asks the municipal council for its views as to a successor, then writes to the Minister of the Interior, recommending a candidate. Since the King’s Commissioners are both the chairs and full members of the provincial executives, they may include some of the executive’s tasks in their portfolio. They also oversee the official apparatus and any provincial utilities and represent the province in its dealings with business.

Naming practice in Limburg

In the Dutch province of Limburg, the King’s Commissioner is usually called Gouverneur ("governor"), as in Belgium. Similarly, the Provinciehuis ("Province Hall") at Maastricht is called Gouvernement ("Governor’s Residence"). This local custom arose from the particular status of the province in the nineteenth century. The official name of the office is currently the same as in the other provinces.

Azure, billetty Or a lion with a coronet Or armed and langued Gules holding in his dexter paw a sword Argent hilted Or and in the sinister paw seven arrows Argent pointed and bound together Or. [The seven arrows stand for the seven provinces of the Union of Utrecht.] The shield is crowned with the (Dutch) royal crown and supported by two lions Or armed and langued gules. They stand on a scroll Azure with the text (Or) "Je Maintiendrai" (French for "I will maintain".)
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List of current King's Commissioner

Province King's Commissioner Party Appointed
Jacques Tichelaar
(born 1953)
Labour Party 1 May 2009
(7 years, 220 days)
Leen Verbeek
(born 1954)
Labour Party 1 November 2008
(8 years, 36 days)
Joan Leemhuis-Stout
(born 1946)
People's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
13 September 2016
(177 days)[1]
Clemens Cornielje
(born 1958)
People's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
31 August 2005
(11 years, 98 days)
René Paas
(born 1966)
Christian Democratic Appeal 18 April 2016
(233 days)
Theo Bovens
(born 1959)
Christian Democratic Appeal 30 June 2011
(5 years, 160 days)
Wim van de Donk
(born 1962)
Christian Democratic Appeal 1 October 2009
(7 years, 67 days)
Johan Remkes
(born 1951)
People's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
1 July 2010
(6 years, 159 days)
Ank Bijleveld
(born 1962)
Christian Democratic Appeal 1 January 2011
(5 years, 341 days)
Jaap Smit
(born 1957)
Christian Democratic Appeal 1 January 2014
(2 years, 341 days)
Willibrord van Beek
(born 1949)
People's Party for
Freedom and Democracy
15 September 2013
(3 years, 83 days)
Han Polman
(born 1963)
Democrats 66 1 March 2013
(3 years, 281 days)


  1. "Mevrouw Joan Leemhuis-Stout waarnemend commissaris in Fryslân - Provincie Fryslân". (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 November 2016.

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