The Flemish Parliament in a nutshell

Legislative and supervisory powers lie with the Flemish Parliament. Flanders uses the single chamber system. The parliament is elected directly by the Flemish population by way of five-yearly elections. The parliament has 124 members (Member of Flemish Parliament - MFP). Six of them represent the Flemish population in the bilingual area of Brussels (Brussels Capital Region).
The Flemish Parliament has its seat in Brussels. To avoid confusion with the federal laws: the laws made by the Flemish Parliament are known as decrees. This difference in name does not imply that decrees are subordinate to federal laws.
The Flemish Parliament also appoints the ministers of the Flemish Government. The Flemish Parliament cannot be dissolved before its five-year tenure is over. Elections prior to the end of a tenure are not allowed.

In recent years, six political formations have played a significant role in Flemish parliamentary elections: the Flemish Liberal Democrats (Open vld), the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), the Social Democrats (SP.A), the green party (Groen!), the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie or N-VA) and the far rightwing nationalist party Vlaams Belang. N-VA is also a Flemish nationalist/separatist party, less extreme than Vlaams Belang.

Traditionally no single party ever gets a majority of votes. After the elections, two or more parties consult to form a majority together. The Flemish Government therefore has always been a coalition government. None of the parties want to enter into a coalition with Vlaams Belang. There is what one calls a 'cordon sanitaire' excluding this party from coalitions.

What does the Flemish Parliament do?

The main task of the Flemish Parliament is approving decrees. A decree is a Flemish law, a general rule which applies to the entire Flemish population.

The Flemish Parliament deals with important aspects of the daily life in Flanders. It can approve decrees in areas such as culture, language use, education, housing, environment and water policy and public works. Also international affairs and science and research are competencies of the Flemish Parliament.

For the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Brussels (a separate region but part of the Flemish Community), the Flemish Parliament has jurisdiction over community matters such as  education, cultural issues and all other 'matters relating to the person'.

The Flemish Parliament appoints and supervises the Flemish Government
The appointment of the Flemish Government is an important moment for the Flemish Parliament.

The ministers take the oath before the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament. Only the head of the Flemish Government, the Flemish minister-president, takes the oath before the King.

The Parliament keeps a constant watch to ensure that the government does not betray the confidence placed in it.

The Flemish Parliament approves the Flemish budget

Each year the Flemish Parliament decides how the Flemish financial resources will be used. To this end it approves budget decrees containing full details of all revenue and expenditure.
The Flemish Government has a maximum of eleven ministers. At least one of them must come from Brussels. The party with the largest majority provides the minister-president. A minister from the party with the second largest majority supplies the vice-minister-president.

Each minister has a number of well-defined powers and can count on a staff of direct political advisors and ministerial officials when preparing or implementing his or her policies.

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