Prime Minister of Belgium

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Prime Minister of Belgium
Eerste Minister van België
Premier Ministre de Belgique
Premierminister von Belgien
State Coat of Arms of Belgium.svg
Government Ensign of Belgium.svg
State Ensign
Vladimir Putin and Charles Michel (2018-01-31) 01 (cropped).jpg
Charles Michel

since 11 October 2014
Executive branch of the
Belgian Federal Government
Member of Belgian Federal Cabinet
European Council
Residence Number 16, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat
Appointer Monarch of Belgium
Term length No term limit
Inaugural holder Étienne de Gerlache (as Chief of Government)
Léon Delacroix (as Prime Minister)
Formation26 February 1831
State Coat of Arms of Belgium.svg
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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.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.


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.

Monarchy of Belgium constitutional monarchy

The monarchy of Belgium is a constitutional, hereditary, and popular monarchy whose incumbent is titled the King or Queen of the Belgians and serves as the country's head of state. There have been seven Belgian monarchs since independence in 1830.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Léon Delacroix Belgian former prime minister

Léon Frédéric Gustave Delacroix was a Belgian statesman. Before entering politics, he was a renowned lawyer, and served as president of the Belgian Court of Cassation from 1917 to 1918. In the context of reconstruction after World War I, he was appointed the 22nd Prime Minister and served from 1918 to 1920. During his term, universal suffrage for men was enacted.


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.

Belgian Revolution Conflict in western Europe, 1830–1831

The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium.

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.

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.

The Belgian Socialist Party was a social-democratic political party which existed in Belgium from 1945 to 1978. During its time in office, a number of progressive social reforms were introduced.

A coalition government is the best way cabinet of a parliamentary government in which multiple political parties cooperate, reducing the dominance of any one party within that "coalition". The usual reason for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament. A coalition government might also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis to give a government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy or collective identity it desires while also playing a role in diminishing internal political strife. In such times, parties have formed all-party coalitions. If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.

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.

Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries, states and sub-national governments. A second in command to a premier is designated as a vice-premier or deputy premier.

Constitution of Belgium constitution

The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state. However, since 1970, through successive state reforms, Belgium has gradually evolved into a federal state.

State reform in Belgium

The term State reform in the Belgian context refers to the ongoing process of seeking and finding constitutional and legal solutions to the problems and tensions that exist among the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly between the Dutch-speakers of Flanders and the French-speakers of Wallonia. In general, Belgium has evolved from a unitary state to a federal state with communities, regions, and language areas.


Besides coordinating government policies, the Prime Minister is responsible for the proper execution of the coalition agreement. He 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. He 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 when he resigns. 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.

Coalition agreement agreement between political parties to form a coalition government in a multi-party parliamentary system

In multiparty democracies, a coalition agreement is an agreement between the parties that form the cabinet. It codifies the most important goals and objectives of the cabinet. It is often written by the leaders of the parliamentary parties.

A government policy statement is a declaration of a government's political activities, plans and intentions relating to a concrete cause or, at the assumption of office, an entire legislative session. In certain countries they are announced by the head of government or a minister of the parliament. In constitutional monarchies this function may be fulfilled by the Speech from the Throne.

Belgian Federal Parliament Federal Parliament of Belgium, consisting of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate

The Belgian Federal Parliament is the bicameral parliament of Belgium. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate. It sits in the Palace of the Nation. The Chamber of Representatives is the primary legislative body; the Senate functions only as a meeting place of the federal communities and regions.


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. [1]

The Prime Minister or Premier is appointed by the King, alongside the other ministers and secretaries of state of the federal government. As the head of government, he is the first to be appointed. Per the Constitution, the King's actions 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.


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 the 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. [2] 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. [3] In 1830 it was purchased by Prince Eugène of Ligne, [4] 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

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  1. ( Formation )
  2. Wetstraat 16 - virtueel bezoek - de ingang -, Aardse wetstraat, (15/12/2007)
  3. Wetstraat 16 - virtueel bezoek - de ingang -
  4. Wetstraat 16 - virtueel bezoek - de hal -