Prime Minister of Belgium

Last updated

Prime Minister of Belgium
Eerste Minister van België (Dutch)
Premier Ministre de Belgique (French)
Premierminister von Belgien (German)
State Coat of Arms of Belgium.svg
Government Ensign of Belgium.svg
State Ensign
Alexander De Croo (2022-04-28) (cropped).jpg
Alexander De Croo
since 1 October 2020
Executive branch of the
Belgian Federal Government
Style Mr Prime Minister (informal)
His Excellency [1] (diplomatic)
Member of
Residence Le Lambermont, Brussels
Seat 16, Rue de la Loi, Brussels
Appointer Monarch of Belgium
Term length No term limit
Formation26 February 1831;192 years ago (1831-02-26) (de facto)
1918;105 years ago (1918) (de jure)
First holder Étienne de Gerlache
Unofficial namesPremier of Belgium
Salary€236,900 annually [2]

The prime minister of Belgium (Dutch : Eerste minister van België; French : Premier ministre de Belgique; German : Premierminister von Belgien) or the premier of Belgium is the head of the federal government of Belgium, and the most powerful person in Belgian politics.


Although Leaders of Government (French: Chefs de Cabinet) had been appointed since the independence of the country, until 1918 the king of the Belgians often presided over the Council of Ministers, so the modern era of the "Premiership" started after World War I with Léon Delacroix. The political importance of the Crown has decreased over time, whereas the position of prime minister has gradually become more important.

Alexander De Croo, a member of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats and son of prominent politician, Herman, was appointed as new prime minister on 1 October 2020. He succeeded Sophie Wilmès.


Since the independence of Belgium in 1830, governments have been designated with the name of the minister who formed the government as formateur, but that position did not have a specific status. Originally, from 1831 the king of the Belgians presided over the Council of Ministers, but when he was absent, the presidency was taken by the chef de cabinet (head of Cabinet), usually the oldest or most influential minister. This position gradually became more prominent, and the minister with this title then soon acquired the competency to present the king with the proposed allocation of the various ministerial departments among the ministers.

With the expansion of voting rights after World War I, more political parties started to win seats in parliament—especially the Belgian Socialist Party—and this made it impossible to achieve an absolute majority in parliament. Since then, coalition governments have been necessary, which has made the task of forming a government by the appointed formateur more difficult. Consequently, the formateur increasingly gained greater respect, and much prestige. Thus the formateur became prominent as a position of leadership. As the ministers of the government now represented various political parties, there was a need for someone to coordinate the proceedings of the various ministers. The prime minister was now asserted as the actual head of government, and this is how the office of prime minister came into existence.

Gradually, the head of Cabinet replaced the king more often during the first half of the twentieth century, and as such gained importance within government. As the Constitution requires the king to exercise his powers through the ministers, the prime minister became reckoned as the country's most important political figure and de facto chief executive. Nevertheless, given his newly acquired prominence, as a member of the Cabinet the head of Cabinet continued to lead a ministerial department.

The title of Prime Minister or Premier was used for the first time in 1918 in official documents and it is at this time that the position was assigned to its own cabinet. Only in 1970 the title was incorporated in the Belgian Constitution with the first state reform.


Besides coordinating government policies, the prime minister is responsible for the proper execution of the coalition agreement. The prime minister also presides at meetings of the Council of Ministers and manages conflicts of competencies between the ministers. In addition, the prime minister represents the government coalition in public, both at home and abroad. It is the prime minister who maintains contact with the king and presents the government policy statement in the Parliament. The prime minister can also ask Parliament for a vote of confidence, which can even lead to the government's resignation in the case of a constructive vote of no confidence. Unless the prime minister resigns because of a personal matter, the whole government resigns with the prime minister's resignation. The prime minister also represents Belgium in the various international organisations, alongside the minister of foreign affairs. Due to the state reform, the prime minister acquired a number of additional tasks, such as keeping in check the relations between the different regions and communities of the country, and presiding at the deliberative committee that consists of the governmental representatives of all the federal entities.

It is expected, though not required, that the prime minister be fluent in both French and Dutch.


The day after the federal elections, the incumbent prime minister offers the resignation of his government to the king. The king then asks the resigning government to continue as a caretaker government until a new government is formed. The king then consults a number of prominent politicians in order to ascertain the different possibilities of forming a government. He usually consults the presidents of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate, the most important political parties, and other people of political and socio-economic importance. After the consultations, the king appoints an informateur who is in charge of collecting information from the different political parties about their demands for formation of a new government. After these consultations, the informateur reports to the king so that the king can find a suitable formateur , who is responsible for forming the government. Usually, it is the formateur of the federal government who then becomes prime minister. [3]

It usually takes several months of negotiations before the formateur is ready to accept a formal royal invitation to form a government. Per the Constitution, the king's acts are only valid with the countersignature of a minister. For this reason, the outgoing prime minister countersigns the Act of Appointment of the new prime minister, and the new prime minister countersigns the Act of Resignation of the resigning prime minister. The king then appoints the other ministers and secretaries of state of the federal government, and their Acts of Appointment are countersigned by the prime minister.

Official office

The official office of the prime minister is located at 16 Rue de la Loi (Wetstraat in Dutch, or "Law Street" in translation) among many notable Belgian government and European Union buildings in the centre of Brussels and around Brussels Park. The residence includes the Belgian Federal Cabinet, the Chancellery and the Council of Ministers. It functions as the nerve center of Belgian politics. The building was originally erected as the so-called "Refuge House" by the Saint Gertrude Abbey of Leuven. It was designed by the Belgian-Austrian architect Louis Joseph Montoyer. [4] At the time of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830), the building was planned to be used as the location for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [5] In 1830 it was purchased by Prince Eugène of Ligne, [6] and from 1944, the building became state property, after which it was furnished to function as a meeting place for the prime minister and his cabinet.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime minister</span> Top minister of cabinet and government

A prime minister,premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. Under those systems, a prime minister is not the head of state, but rather the head of government, serving as the principle administrator under either a monarch in a monarchy or a president in a republican form of government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy of Belgium</span> Constitutional, hereditary and popular monarchy of Belgium

Belgium is a constitutional, hereditary and popular monarchy. The monarch is titled King of the Belgians and serves as the country's head of state and commander-in-chief of the Belgian Armed Forces. There have been seven Belgian monarchs since independence in 1830.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elio Di Rupo</span> Belgian politician

Elio Di Rupo is a Belgian politician who has served as the minister-president of Wallonia since 2019. He is affiliated with the Socialist Party. Di Rupo previously served as the prime minister of Belgium from 6 December 2011 to 11 October 2014, heading the Di Rupo Government. He was the first francophone to hold the office since Paul Vanden Boeynants in 1979, and the country's first socialist prime minister since Edmond Leburton left office in 1974. Di Rupo was also Belgium's first prime minister of non-Belgian descent, and the world's second openly gay person and first openly gay man to be head of government in modern times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime Minister of the Netherlands</span> Head of the government of the Netherlands

The prime minister of the Netherlands is the head of the executive branch of the Government of the Netherlands. Although the monarch is the de jure head of government, the prime minister de facto occupies this role as the officeholder chairs the Council of Ministers and coordinates its policy with the rest of the cabinet. In his role as head of government, the prime minister also represents the Netherlands in the European Council.

A deputy prime minister or vice prime minister is, in some countries, a government minister who can take the position of acting prime minister when the prime minister is temporarily absent. The position is often likened to that of a vice president, as both positions are "number two" offices, but there are some differences.

A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government where they preside over the council of ministers. It is an alternative term for prime minister, premier, chief minister, or first minister and very similar to the title of president of the council of ministers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cabinet of the Netherlands</span> Executive body of the Dutch government

The cabinet of the Netherlands is the main executive body of the Netherlands. The latest cabinet of the Netherlands is the Fourth Rutte cabinet, which has been in power since 10 January 2022, until 7 July 2023. It is headed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his deputies Sigrid Kaag, Wopke Hoekstra and Carola Schouten.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yves Leterme</span> Belgian politician

Yves Camille Désiré Leterme is a Belgian politician, a leader of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V). He was the prime minister of Belgium, from November 2009 to December 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime Minister of Ukraine</span> Head of government of Ukraine

The prime minister of Ukraine is the head of government of Ukraine. The prime minister presides over the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which is the highest body of the executive branch of the Ukrainian government. The position replaced the Soviet post of chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR, which was established on March 25, 1946.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federal Government of Belgium</span> National government of Belgium

The Federal Government of Belgium exercises executive power in the Kingdom of Belgium. It consists of ministers and secretary of state drawn from the political parties which form the governing coalition. The federal government is led by the prime minister of Belgium, and ministers lead ministries of the government. Ministers together form the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive organ of the government.

A formateur is a politician who is appointed to lead the formation of a coalition government, after either a general election or the collapse of a previous government. The role of the formateur is especially important in the politics of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Israel and the Czech Republic. These countries have a parliamentary system, where the executive is elected by the legislature. They also use proportional representation for elections to parliament, and have a multiparty system that makes it improbable for one party to win an outright majority. There may be several combinations of parties which might form a coalition. The Formateur is traditionally appointed by the head of state but in the Netherlands that became the right of the Speaker of the Lower house in the early 21st century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2007 Belgian federal election</span>

Federal elections were held in Belgium on 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Didier Reynders</span> Belgian politician

Didier Reynders is a Belgian politician and a member of the Mouvement Réformateur (MR) serving as European Commissioner for Justice since 2019. He held various positions in public institutions before becoming a member of the House in 1992. He was a minister without interruption from 1999 to 2019, until resigning to become Belgian European Commissioner.

The 2007–2008 Belgian government formation followed the general election of 10 June 2007, and comprised a period of negotiation in which the Flemish parties Flemish Liberal Democratic, Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) and New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), and the French-speaking parties Reformist Movement (MR), Democratic Front of Francophones (FDF) and Humanist Democratic Centre (CdH) negotiated to form a government coalition. The negotiations were characterized by the disagreement between the Dutch- and French-speaking parties about the need for and nature of a constitutional reform. According to some, this political conflict could have led to a partition of Belgium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Michel</span> President of the European Council since 2019

Charles Michel is a Belgian politician serving as the president of the European Council since 2019. He previously served as the prime minister of Belgium between 2014 and 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dutch cabinet formation</span> Process to form a cabinet in the Netherlands

The formation of a Dutch cabinet is the process of negotiating an agreement that will get majority support in parliament for the appointment of the council of ministers and gives sufficient confidence that agreed policies will be supported by parliament. Dutch cabinet formations tend to be a time-consuming process, and the process is for the most part not codified in the constitution.

The 2007–2011 Belgian political crisis was a period of tense communal relations and political instability in Belgium, which was rooted in the differing opinions on state reform, and in the continued existence of the controversial electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV). Parties from the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community are in general strongly in favour for a devolution of powers to the communities and regions, and the splitting of the unconstitutional BHV district, while French-speaking French Community of Belgium is generally in favour of retaining the status quo. After the 2010 elections, the topics of public debt, deficit cuts and socio-economic reform were added to the debate, with most Flemish parties in favour of finding money by strongly reducing spending, whilst the proposals supported by most French-speaking parties also included a significant raise in taxes. The crisis came to an end in December 2011 with the inauguration of a new federal government which agreed on partition of the BHV district and on policies aimed at tackling the economic downturn. The country's continuing linguistic divide played a large part in the crisis. Several times during the period Belgium was threatened to be split up amid rising Flemish separatism.

Following the Belgian general election held on 13 June 2010, a process of cabinet formation started in Belgium. The election produced a very fragmented political landscape, with 11 parties elected to the Chamber of Representatives, none of which won more than 20% of the seats. The Flemish-Nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the largest party in Flanders and the country as a whole, controlled 27 of 150 seats in the lower chamber. The Francophone Socialist Party (PS), the largest in Wallonia, controlled 26 seats. Cabinet negotiations continued for a long time. On 1 June 2011, Belgium matched the record for time taken to form a new democratic government after an election, at 353 days, held until then by Cambodia in 2003–2004. On 11 October 2011, the final agreement for institutional reform was presented to the media. A government coalition was named on 5 December 2011 and sworn in after a total of 541 days of negotiations and formation on 6 December 2011, and 589 days without an elected government with Elio Di Rupo named Prime Minister of the Di Rupo I Government.

Following the simultaneous federal elections and regional elections of 25 May 2014, negotiations started to form a new Federal Government as well as new regional governments: a Flemish, Walloon, French Community and Brussels Government. A Government of the German-speaking Community was formed only a few days after the elections.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2019 Belgian federal election</span>

Federal elections were held in Belgium on 26 May 2019, alongside the country's European and regional elections. All 150 members of the Chamber of Representatives were elected from eleven multi-member constituencies.


  1. Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  2. " Pay Check".
  3. Formation
  4. Wetstraat 16 – virtueel bezoek – de ingang –, Aardse wetstraat, (15 December 2007)
  5. Wetstraat 16 – virtueel bezoek – de ingang –
  6. Wetstraat 16 – virtueel bezoek – de hal –