(Dis)trusting the citizen: Historical debates on the expansion of suffrage in the Netherlands

Although democracies are currently faced with growing popular distrust, whereby citizens wonder whether they can entrust politicians with the responsibility to represent their interests, this paper deals with an opposite dynamic, namely the distrust of governments toward their citizens. More specifically, this paper seeks to examine to what extent concepts like ‘trust’ and ‘distrust’ in the institution of citizenship have shaped the democratization of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands, focusing on the democratization of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands by looking at parliamentary debates on the expansion of suffrage in the period between 1869 and 1983. It is only since the constitutional revision of 1983 that the Constitution of the Netherlands explicitly acknowledges suffrage as a civil right. Even after the introduction of universal suffrage, this consideration continued to serve as an argument for or against lowering the voting age of citizens.