Browse the listing below to find government information for Belgium, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Belgium at its
Belgium Country Page.
Type: Parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch.
Constitution: 1994 (revised).
Branches: Executive--King (head of state), Prime Minister (head of government), Cabinet. Legislative--bicameral parliament (Senate and Chamber of Representatives). Flemish Parliament with the Flemish Government for regional, educational, and cultural affairs; Walloon Regional Council (legislator) and government for Walloon Regional Affairs; Francophone Community Council and government for Francophone cultural and educational affairs; Brussels Regional Council and government for Brussels regional affairs; and German language Community Council and government for cultural and educational affairs.
Major political parties: Christian Democratic, Green (ecologist), Liberal (conservative philosophy in American terminology), Socialist, Vlaams Blok.
Suffrage: Over 18, compulsory.
Political subdivisions: Ten provinces, three regions, three communities, 589 municipalities.
Belgium is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The current monarch is King Albert II, who took the oath of office on August 9, 1993.
As titular head of state, the King plays a largely ceremonial and symbolic role in the nation. His primary political function is to designate a political leader to attempt to form a new cabinet following either an election, the resignation of a government, or a parliamentary vote of no confidence. The King is seen as playing a symbolic unifying role, representing a common national Belgian identity.
The Belgian Parliament consists of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives (also called the House). The Chamber of Representatives has 150 directly elected members. The Senate has 71 elected members. The executive branch of the government consists of ministers and secretaries of state (junior ministers) drawn from the political parties that form the government coalition. The number of ministers is limited to 15, and they have no seat in Parliament. The Cabinet is chaired by the Prime Minister and consists of the ministerial heads of the executive departments.
The allocation of powers between the Parliament and the Cabinet is somewhat similar to the United States--the Parliament enacts legislation and appropriates funds--but the Belgian Parliament does not have the same degree of independent power that the U.S. Congress has. Members of political parties represented in the government are expected to support all bills presented by the Cabinet.
The Chamber of Representatives is the “political” body that votes on motions of confidence and budgets. The Senate deals with long-term issues and votes on an equal footing with the Chamber on a limited range of matters, including constitutional reform bills and international treaties.
The largest parties in the current Chamber are the Flemish Liberal Party (VLD), 25 seats; the Francophone Socialists (PS), 25 seats, the Francophone Liberals (MR), 24 seats; the Flemish Socialists and Spirit alliance (SP.A/Spirit), 23 seats, the Flemish Christian Democratic party (CD&V), 21 seats; the right-wing Vlaams Blok party (VB), 18 seats; and the Francophone Christian Democrats (CDH) 8 seats. The Francophone Greens (ECOLO), have 4 seats, while the New Flemish Alliance (NV.A) and Francophone Front National each have 1 seat. The Flemish Greens (AGALEV) did not win any Chamber seats in the 2003 election, but have one "co-opted" Senator.
The Prime Minister and his ministers administer the government and the various public services. Ministers must defend their policies and performance in person before the Chamber.