Political System of Belgium

The political system of Belgium is based on a federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with King Albert II as head of state. As a long process of devolution the country attained its federal status in the year 1995. Under the political system of Belgium, the government is divided into the federal government, the regional governments and the community councils. In addition to this, there are three regional government areas in Belgium- Dutch speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia and the bilingual capital, Brussels. The 3 regions have authority over 10 policy areas (economy, energy, employment, transport, public works, science, regional development, environment, agriculture, housing, and water). The three linguistic communities are in charge of education, culture and language. The Flemish community and Flemish region are combined and fall under a single administrative level.

Executive
The executive powers are held by King Albert II, the constitutional head, in collaboration with the Prime Minister, head of Government and his Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party or coalition who is generally appointed by the Monarch and further approved by the parliament.

Legislature
The federal parliament in Belgium consist of two chambers- the House of Representatives and the Senate or the upper house. The House of Representatives consists of 150 members and are elected for a maximum term of four years. The members are elected by popular vote based on proportional representation. The Senate consists of 40 members who are either elected or co-opted.

The functions of the House of Representatives include taking the final decision on laws, while the Senate is fundamentally an advisory chamber having the exclusive authority on clash of interest between the Federal Parliament, the Community and the Regional Assemblies.

The legislative elections are conducted every four years, with the last elections having been held on May 2003. The next legislative elections are due this year, 2008.

Judiciary
Under the judicial system of Belgium, which is based on civil law, the Court of Cassation is the highest court in the country. The judges of this court are appointed for life by the monarch, the Belgian head of state. The next court after the Court of Cassation is the Court of Appeals.

Main Political Parties
There are four main political parties in Belgium which are:

  • Liberal Party (VLD-MR)
  • Socialist Party(PS-SPA-SPIRIT)
  • Christian Democratic and Flemish Party (CD&V-NVA-CdH)
  • Environment Groups (Ecolo-Groen)
Council of Ministers
  • Prime minister- Guy Verhofstadt (VLD)
  • Deputy prime minister & minister of justice- Laurette Onkelinx (PS)
  • Deputy prime minister & minister of finance- Didier Reynders (MR)
  • Deputy prime minister & budget & public enterprises- Freya Van Den Bossche (SP.A)
  • Deputy prime minister & interior minister: Patrick Dewael (VLD)

 

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