Belgian monarchy referendum, 1950

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A referendum on restoring Leopold III to the throne was held in Belgium on 12 March 1950. The proposal was approved by 57.68% of voters.[1]

Background[edit]

Main article: Royal Question

King Leopold went into exile in June 1944, when Heinrich Himmler ordered him to leave Belgium. Leopold was held by the Nazis in Strobl, Austria until early May 1945, when he was freed by members of the United States 106th Cavalry Group. Because of the political troubles surrounding his war time behaviour King Leopold remained in exile in Switzerland until 1950, his brother Prince Charles, Count of Flanders having been installed as Regent after the Liberation in 1944.

The Catholics, who generally supported the King's return, won a majority in the Belgian Senate during the general election of 26 June 1949. The Catholics formed a government with the Liberals. The date of the referendum (Consultation populaire) the King wanted was set by this government for 12 March 1950.

Socialist Leader Paul-Henri Spaak opposed holding a referendum. He foresaw that the vote for Leopold might fall between 55% and 65%, giving no decisive mandate for the king's return, and that the King would carry Flanders and lose Wallonia. In that case, said Spaak, "the government would not only have on its hands the King's abdication or return, it would also have to appease the anger, acerbity and rancor of Flanders or Wallonia."[2]

Results[edit]

The percentage of valid votes in favour of the returning of Leopold III, per electoral arrondissement. Green is majority in favour, red is majority against, orange is near 50%.

A majority voted in favour of Leopold's return. In Flanders 72% voted in favour, whilst in Wallonia 58% voted against. Brussels was evenly divided.[3]

Choice Votes %
For 2,933,382 57.68
Against 2,151,881 42.32
Invalid/blank votes 151,477
Total 5,236,740 100
Registered voters/turnout 5,635,452 92.92
Source: Direct Democracy

By area[edit]

Wallonia[edit]

Arrondissement[4] Against For
Arlon - 66%
Neufchâteau - 65%
Dinant[5] - 60%
Verviers - 60%
Mons 69% -
Charleroi 67% -
Soignies 66% -
Liège 65% -
Nivelles[6] 62% -
Huy 58% -
Thuin 57% -
Tournai[7] 54% -
Namur 51% -

Flanders[edit]

Arrondissement Against For
Roeselare - 85%
Turnhout - 84%
Tongeren - 84%
Hasselt - 82%
Sint-Niklaas - 78%
Dendermonde - 78%
Ieper - 76%
Oostende - 73%
Brugge - 72%
Gent - 71%
Kortrijk - 70%
Aalst - 70%
Mechelen - 70%
Oudenaarde - 67%
Leuven - 66%
Antwerpen - 63%

Aftermath[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Belgium, 12 March 1950: Return of King Leopold III Direct Democracy (German)
  2. ^ "Belgium up in the air", Time, Monday, 20 March 1950
  3. ^ Maps of the referendum's results Institut Destrée et Université de Liège
  4. ^ Paul Theunissen, 1950, Ontknoping van de koningskwestie, De Nederlandsche boekhandel, Anvers, Amsterdam, 1984, pp. 16-17. ISBN 90-289-0892-7 and La Revue Nouvelle, 15 avril 1950, pp. 379-385.
  5. ^ During this vote, this arrondissement included the Arrondissement of Philippeville
  6. ^ Walloon Brabant was at that time the old Arrondissement of Nivelles
  7. ^ During this vote, Tournai included the Arrondissement of Ath