Elections 2019: The Brussels Parliament

On 26 May we go to the polls for the regional, federal and European elections. Voters in the Brussels-Capital Region will be voting for their regional assembly the Brussels Parliament. The Brussels Parliament is the legislative body of the Brussels-Capital Region. It prepares, debates and votes on the laws on areas of policy that are part of its remit.

These policy areas are urban development, housing, the environment, the economy (including foreign trade), transport, public works, and energy policy, supervision of local (municipal authorities), external relations, employment and scientific research.

The Brussels Parliament also approves the regional budgets and oversees the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, which is tasked with implementing the regional policy. The Brussels Parliament can demand that ministers and secretaries appear before it to be questioned and if it sees fit pass votes of no confidence.

89 MPs, 17 Flemings, 72 Francophones

The Brussels Parliament is made up of 89 members, elected by universal suffrage every five years by Belgian adults registered in one of the 19 municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region. The MPs are elected in two electoral groups: one Francophone, the other consisting of Dutch-speaking candidates. Since the 2004 regional elections each linguistic group had been given a guaranteed number of seats.

The largest group (the Francophones) have 72 seats, while Dutch-speakers are guaranteed 17 seats in the regional assembly. As Brussels is part of both the Flemish and the Francophone language community, representatives from Brussels sit in both the Flemish Parliament and the Parliament of the Francophone Language Community.

In the case of the Flemings, six representatives from Brussels are directly elected to the Flemish Parliament by those that vote for a Flemish party in the elections for the Brussels Parliament. This means that those voting for Flemish in Brussels will be voting four times (Europe, federal, Brussels and Flemish) on 26 May, while everyone else (except those in the German-speaking community) will be voting for representatives in three parliaments.

Meanwhile, the 25 Francophone Brussels MPs that gained the highest number of votes in the regional elections also sit in the Parliament of the Francophone Language Community.  

5 Ministers, 3 Secretaries of State

As in the Federal Government, linguistic parity is observed in the government of the Brussel-Capital Region. As with the Federal Prime Minister, the First Minister in the Brussels Regional Government is officially linguistically neutral. In addition to the First Minister there are four other minister in the regional government.

Two of these are Dutch-speakers, the other two are Francophone. There are also 3 secretaries of state, one of whom comes from a Flemish party, while the other two are Francophones.

The Brussels Parliament has a total of 7 Select Committees responsible for one or more policy area among the competences of the Brussels-Capital Region.