Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Council meeting walkouts: ‘powerplay’

It rarely happens: halting a decision by walking out of a meeting. ‘But there’s nothing wrong with it from a constitutional law perspective,’ says Geerten Boogaard, Professor by Special Appointment of Local Government, in ‘Leidsch Dagblad’.

It happened earlier this month during a closed council meeting of Noordwijk municipality over the purchase of a piece of land. A number of parties left the council chamber before the vote took place, which meant that the other council members were unable to make a legally binding decision as there was no longer a 'quorum' present. As local Dutch newspaper Leidsch Dagblad reports (in Dutch), the majority of council members (half plus one) must be present in order for a legally valid decision to be made.

According to Professor Boogaard, this is a means ‘by which a minority, if they are very strongly against a decision, can make things difficult for the majority’. However, decisions cannot be permanently halted. The majority can circumvent this with a provision under constitutional law: if there’s no quorum at the first meeting, a second meeting may be convened that doesn’t require a quorum to be present. Boogaard: ‘It’s powerplay, but minorities aren’t able to bring the decision making process to a permanent standstill because that wouldn’t be good at all. You’d have democracy, but no governance.’

Professor Boogaard can understand these walkout tactics, especially when the fallout can be huge and there’s little time to consider it properly. However, good intentions and positive relationships between council members remain important.

More information

Read the full article in Leidsch Dagblad (in Dutch, €).

Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash.

This website uses cookies.  More information.