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 in every electoral arrondissement. Green areas are strongly in favour, yellow areas narrowly in favour, orange areas narrowly against, and red areas strongly against.

The question voters were asked was:

Dutch: "Zijt U de mening toegedaan dat Koning Leopold III de uitoefening van zijn grondwettelijke machten zou hernemen?"
French: "Etes-vous d'avis que le Roi Leopold III reprenne l'exercise de ses pouvoirs constitutionnels?"
Translation: "Are you of the opinion that King Leopold III should resume the exercise of his constitutional powers?"

A majority voted in favour of Leopold's return. In Flanders, 72% voted in favour. In Wallonia, 58% voted against. In Brussels, only 52% voted against.[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]

These are the results by electoral arrondissement(s):[4][5]

Arrondissement Province Total ballots cast Invalid ballots YES  % NO  %
Antwerpen Antwerp 484,936 12,236 297,863 63.0% 174,837 37.0%
Mechelen Antwerp 156,099 3,905 106,450 69.9% 45,744 30.1%
Turnhout Antwerp 134,684 3,678 110,576 84.4% 20,430 15.6%
Brussels Brabant 832,087 26,773 387,914 48.2% 417,400 51.8%
Leuven Brabant 197,540 7,530 125,944 66.3% 64,066 33.7%
Nivelles Brabant 119,686 3,097 43,777 37.5% 72,812 62.5%
Brugge West Flanders 119,573 3,677 83,623 72.2% 32,273 27.8%
Veurne-Diksmuide-Oostende West Flanders 118,265 4,615 82,652 72.7% 30,998 27.3%
Roeselare-Tielt West Flanders 116,945 3,372 96,196 84.7% 17,377 15.3%
Kortrijk West Flanders 167,772 5,163 114,198 70.2% 48,411 29.8%
Ieper West Flanders 74,101 3,011 54,109 76.1% 16,981 23.9%
Gent-Eeklo East Flanders 328,298 9,792 224,874 70.6% 93,632 29.4%
Sint-Niklaas East Flanders 111,048 1,833 84,955 77.8% 24,260 22.2%
Dendermonde East Flanders 97,756 2,150 72,223 75.5% 23,383 24.5%
Aalst East Flanders 145,994 2,924 100,130 70.0% 42,940 30.0%
Oudenaarde East Flanders 73,500 2,371 47,607 66.9% 23,522 33.1%
Mons Hainaut 162,250 4,467 49,243 31.2% 108,540 68.8%
Soignies Hainaut 103,952 2,565 34,875 34.4% 66,512 65.6%
Charleroi Hainaut 268,375 7,209 86,003 32.9% 175,163 67.1%
Thuin Hainaut 82,540 2,294 34,529 43.0% 45,717 57.0%
Tournai-Ath Hainaut 147,992 4,056 62,661 43.5% 81,275 56.5%
Liège Liège 353,598 10,095 119,161 34.7% 224,342 65.3%
Huy-Waremme Liège 109,286 3,132 44,445 41.9% 61,709 58.1%
Verviers Liège 141,253 4,998 81,238 59.6% 55,017 40.4%
Hasselt Limburg 109,472 3,513 87,241 82.3% 18,718 17.7%
Tongeren-Maaseik Limburg 124,333 3,616 101,783 84.3% 18,934 15.7%
Arlon-Marche-Bastogne Luxembourg 72,526 2,078 46,296 65.7% 24,152 34.3%
Neufchâteau-Virton Luxembourg 59,223 1,595 37,443 65.0% 20,185 35.0%
Namur Namur 135,600 3,495 64,112 48.5% 67,993 51.5%
Dinant-Philippeville Namur 88,056 2,237 51,261 59.7% 34,558 40.3%
Flanders (four Flemish provinces plus Leuven)[6] 2,560,316 73,386 1,790,424 71.0% 696,506 28.0%
Wallonia (four Walloon provinces plus Nivelles)[7] 1,844,337 51,318 755,044 42.1% 1,037,975 57.9%
Kingdom of Belgium 5,236,740 151,477 2,933,382 57.7% 2,151,881 42.3%

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. ^ Communication of the Minister of the Interior on the referendum, Senate, 13 March 1950
  6. ^ Almost corresponding to the present-day five Flemish provinces making up the Flemish Region, except for Halle-Vilvoorde which was then part of the arrondissement of Brussels
  7. ^ Corresponding to the present-day five Walloon provinces making up the Walloon Region