The Prime Minister of the Netherlands is the de facto head of the government of the Netherlands. He leads the executive branch and chairs the Council of Ministers. Though the Prime Minister is the senior-most political figure in the country, he is not as powerful as the German Chancellor or the British Prime Minister because historically, Dutch ministers were answerable to the Monarch. The Dutch Constitution formally created the position of the Prime Minister in 1983. The electoral system makes it impossible for a single party to control the House of Representatives, and thus the government is occasionally a coalition of two or more parties. After elections, political parties engage in negotiations to run the government. The leader of the party with majority members becomes the de facto Prime Minister, while a minister from the minority party becomes the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Catshuis has served as the official residence of the Prime Minister since 1963. It is located in the country’s administrative city, Hague. Dries van Agt was the last Prime Minister to occupy the building in the late 1970s. Ruud Lubbers decided not to reside in it, and since then, all successive Prime Ministers have lived in private homes. The Catshuis is currently used to receive official state visitors and hold political meetings. The history of the Catshuis dates back to the 17th century when Jacob Cats; a prominent politician and poet constructed the house for his family. Several families occupied it through history before it was ceded to the government. The magnificent Sorghvliet park with exotic native plants and herbs surrounds the large white house. About half of the original land was sold to developers as private properties to cater for the growing population. About 600-hectare of Duke Forest was cut down and converted to a high-end neighborhood. Between 1995 and 2005 the residence was renovated to give it a more modern look while the garden was remodeled to capture the Dutch landscape. The park is currently open to the public for a fee.
The Het Torentje has served as the office of the Prime Minister since 1982. It is located in the Hague and connects directly to the Parliamentary building. The ground floor hosts a small meeting room while the first floor houses the office of the Minister of General Affairs and the Prime Minister. Ruud Lubbers was the first Prime Minister to use the facility in 1982.
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