Cabinet of Belgium

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The Cabinet of Belgium (officially called the Belgian Federal Cabinet) is the executive branch of the Belgian federal government, consisting of ministers and secretaries of state ("junior", or deputy-ministers who do not sit in the Council of Ministers) drawn from the political parties which form the governing coalition. Formally, the ministers are appointed by the King. The Cabinet is chaired by the Prime Minister of Belgium, and the Ministers head executive departments of the government. Some federal ministers do not have seats in the Parliament.

The number of ministers is limited to 15, equally divided between French-speaking and Dutch-speaking ministers, according to Art. 99 of the Constitution. Although the Prime Minister is officially exempt from this quota, no francophones held the post from 1979 to 2011. Cabinet meetings are conducted through simultaneous interpreters.

The Prime Minister and his ministers administer the government and the various public services. As in the United Kingdom, ministers must defend their policies and performance in person before the Chamber.

At the federal level, executive power is wielded by the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is President of the Cabinet. Each minister heads a governmental department. The Cabinet reflects the weight of political parties that constitute the current governing coalition for the Chamber. No single party or party family across linguistic lines holds an absolute majority of seats in Parliament.

The former Cabinet, the Leterme II government succeeded the Van Rompuy I Government on 24 November 2009, after Herman Van Rompuy became the first President of the European Council. On 22 April 2010, Prime Minister Yves Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king.[1] Due to the inability of the political parties to agree on the formation of a new government, the Leterme Cabinet remained in office in a caretaker role for 589 days—the longest run on record for a caretaker government in the developed world—until 6 December 2011, when Elio Di Rupo formed the Di Rupo I Government. Di Rupo is the first francophone to hold this post since Paul Vanden Boeynants left office in 1979.

Primary Cabinet members[edit]

The current Cabinet, Di Rupo I Government, sworn in on 6 December 2011, consists of 13 ministers and 6 state secretaries formed by a coalition of the Dutch-speaking parties SP.A, Open VLD and CD&V and the French-speaking parties PS, MR and CDH.

Minister Name Party
Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo PS
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem CD&V
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Didier Reynders MR
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Economy, Consumer Affairs and the North Sea Johan Vande Lanotte sp.a
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Pensions Alexander De Croo Open Vld
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of the Interior Melchior Wathelet, Jr. cdH
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Social Affairs and Health Laurette Onkelinx PS
Minister of the Middle Class, SMEs, Self-employed and Agriculture Sabine Laruelle MR
Minister of Finance and Sustainable Development Koen Geens CD&V
Minister of Public Enterprises and Development Cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille PS
Minister of Justice Annemie Turtelboom Open Vld
Minister of Budget and Administrative Simplification Olivier Chastel MR
Minister of Employment Monica De Coninck sp.a
Secretary of State Name Party
Secretary of State for Environment, Energy and Mobility Catherine Fonck cdH
Secretary of State for Social Affairs, Families, Disabled Persons and Scientific Policy Philippe Courard PS
Secretary of State for Institutional Reform Servais Verherstraeten CD&V
Secretary of State for Asylum, Immigration and Social Integration Maggie De Block Open Vld
Secretary of State for Civil Service and Modernisation of Public Services Hendrik Bogaert CD&V
Secretary of State for Combating Social and Fiscal Fraud John Crombez sp.a


Formation[edit]

After the elections, the Prime Minister of the former government (which still serves as a temporary government until the new government is formed) offers his resignation to the King, and the formation process for a new government starts.[2] This process is based largely on constitutional convention rather than written law. The King is first consulted by the President of the Chamber of Representatives and the President of the Senate. The King also meets a number of prominent politicians in order to discuss the election results. Following these meetings, an Informateur is appointed.

The Informateur has the task of exploring the various possibilities for the new Federal Government and examining which parties can form a majority in the Federal Parliament.[2] He also meets with prominent people in the socio-economic field to learn their views on the policy that the new Federal Government should conduct. The Informateur then reports to the King and advises him about the appointment of the Formateur.[2] However, the King can also appoint a second Informateur or appoint a royal mediator. The task of a royal mediator is to reach an agreement on contentious issues, resolve remaining obstacles to the formation of a Federal Government and prepare the ground for a Formateur. On July 5, 2007, King Albert II appointed Jean-Luc Dehaene as royal mediator to reach an agreement on a new State Reform.[3]

The Formateur is appointed by the King on the basis of the informateur's report. The task of the Formateur is to form a new government coalition and lead the negotiations about the government agreement and the composition of the government. If these negotiations succeeds, the Formateur presents a new Federal Government to the King. Usually, the Formateur also becomes the Prime Minister.[2]

In accordance with article 96 of the Belgian Constitution, the King appoints and dismisses his ministers. However, in accordance with article 88 of the Belgian Constitution, the King cannot act alone and all of his acts must be countersigned by a minister. In practice, the outgoing Prime Minister countersigns the Royal Order appointing the new Prime Minister. Subsequently, the new Prime Minister countersigns the Royal Order accepting the resignation of the outgoing Prime Minister and the Royal Orders appointing the other members of the new Federal Government.

The appointed ministers take the oath of office before the King. After they have taken the oath, the new Council of Ministers meets to draw up the declaration of government, in which the Federal Government sets out the main lines of the government agreement and outlines the government agenda. The Prime Minister reads the declaration of government to the Chamber of Representatives, which then holds a debate on the declaration of government. Following this debate, a vote of Confidence takes place. If the Prime Minister obtains the confidence of the majority, he can begin implementing the government agreement.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Prime Minister Leterme resigns after liberals quit government". France24. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d (Dutch) De vorming van een regering, belgium.be
  3. ^ "Jean-Luc Dehaene stapt in de ring als bemiddelaar" (in Dutch). De Standaard. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2010-06-18.