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Belgium facts: Government

Last update on November 29, 2018

An overview of the government of Belgium.

Country name

Conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
Conventional short form: Belgium
Local long form: Koninkrijk België (Dutch) / Royaume de Belgique (French)
Local short form: België (Dutch) / Belgique (French)

Belgium facts

Capital: Brussels
Geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
Time zone: UTC plus 1 hr.
Daylight saving time:  Plus 1hr (UTC plus 2 hrs.).  Begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October which is in alignment with all EU countries.

Belgian government type

Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

Administrative divisions

French: regions, singular – region.
Dutch: gewesten, singular – gewest.

Belgium’s three regions

Brussels Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form);

Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form);

Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form).

There are no dependent areas.

Independence

On 4 October 1830 a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands. On 21 July 1831 King Leopold I ascended to the throne.

Belgium’s national holiday

21 July (1831) ascension to the throne of King Leopold I.

Belgian constitution

Drafted 25 November 1830, approved by Congress on 7 February 1831 and entered into force on 26 July 1831. Amended many times and revised on 14 July 1993 to create a federal state. In 1967 an official Dutch version of the constitution was adopted. In 1991 an official German version of the constitution was adopted. In 1993 an official consolidated version of the constitution was adopted. Last amendment occured in 2012.

Legal system in Belgium

Civil law system based on the French Civil Code. Belgian law continues to be modified to conform with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts.

Executive branch

Chief of state: previously King Albert II (from 9 August 1993 to 2013), currently King Philippe (since 21 July 2013); heir Apparent Princess Elisabeth, daughter of the monarch.
Head of government: Prime Minister Elio di Rupo (since 6 December 2011).
Cabinet: Council of Ministers are formally appointed by the monarch.
Elections: The monarchy is hereditary and constitutional. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament.

Legislative branch

Bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat (Dutch), Senat (French) (71 seats; 40 members directly elected by popular vote, 31 indirectly elected). Members serve four-year terms and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers (Dutch), Chambre des Representants (French) (150 seats; members directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms).

Elections

Chamber of Deputies – last held on 23 May 2014 (next to be held May 2019); note – elections will coincide with the EU’s elections.

Election results

Chamber of Deputies (percent of vote by party): N-VA 20.3 percent, PS 11.7 percent, CD&V 11.6 percent, Open VLD 9.8 percent, MR 9.6 percent, SP.A 8.8 percent, Groen! 5.3 percent, CDH 5.0 percent, Workers’ Party 3.7 percent, VB 3.7 percent, Ecolo 3.3 percent, FDF 1.8 percent, the People’s Party 1.5 percent, other 7.2 percent; Chamber of Deputies (seats by party): N-VA 33, PS 23, CD&V 18, Open VLD 14, MR 20, SP.A 13, Groen! 6, CDH 9, Workers’ Party 2, VB 3, Ecolo 6, FDF 2, the People’s Party 1.

N.B. As a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government, namely federal, regional and a linguistic community, with a complex division of responsibilities which in reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly.

Judicial branch

Constitutional Court (previously Court of Arbitration) (12 judges, 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking, appointed by the King). Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (French).  Judges are appointed for life by the government and candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council.

Political parties and leaders

Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CD&V (Wouter Beke), Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD (Gwendolyn Rutten), Groen! (Wouter van Besien) (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens), Libertarian, Direct, Democratic or LDD (formerly Dedecker’s List) (Jean-Marie Dedecker), New Flemish Alliance or N-VA (Bart de Wever), People’s Party (Mischael Modrikamen), Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A (Bruno Tobback), Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB (Gerolf Annemans)

Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) (Olivier Deleuze, Emily Hoyos), Francophone Federalist Democrats (Olivier Maingain), Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH (Benoit Lutgen), Reform Movement or MR (Charles Michel), Socialist Party or PS (Elio di Rupo), Workers’ Party (Peter Mertens).
 
Flag description: Three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red.  The vertical design was based on the flag of France and the colours are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant, a yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field.

National anthem: La Brabanconne (The Song of Brabant)

 

 

CIA World Factbook / Expatica