Malfeasance

According to the Dutch constitution (article 117) members of parliament, ministers and deputy-ministers who are suspected of official misconduct or malfeasance have to stand trial at the countries supreme court.

However, the decision whether a politician has to stand trial is made by either the government or the parliament. Not quite surprising no politician has been prosecuted for misconduct in public office in over a century.

In classical republican thought political power is considered as a corruptible force, which undermine civil liberties and will ultimately lead to tyranny. Hence corrupt public officers should be punished (exile was the traditional punishment for corruption in Ancient Athens).

The question is who is allowed to decide whether a suspected corrupt public officer should be tried. In Ancient Athens anyone could accuse someone of corruption and the issue was settled by a public vote. Obviously this system lead to abuse, as people would seek to eliminate their rivals for political reasons.

However, in the Dutch system politicians will protect their follow politicians, because they might be needed to form a coalition. So this is also unsatisfactory as it allows criminal politicians to get away with malfeasance.

A better idea would be to create a grand jury of randomly selected citizens, who have no direct involvement in daily politics. Every citizen should be allowed to bring forward charges against any public officer. Subsequently this grand jury will determine whether there is sufficient cause for criminal prosecution.

Once it is established there is sufficient cause for prosecution, the accused politician will stand trial – either in court or before a (petite) jury.