AFP

Elections 2019: Belgium’s other three parliaments

In addition to the Federal, Flemish and Brussels parliaments, Belgium has another three parliaments, one each for the French and German-Speaking Language Communities and one for the Walloon Region.  While the Walloon Parliament and the Parliament of the German-Speaking Language Community are directly elected, the Parliament of the French Language community is made up of the 19 Francophone Brussels regional MPs and the 75 Walloon regional MP’s with the highest number of preference votes. 

The 75 MPs have a double mandate, sitting in both their regional parliaments and the parliament of their language community. The Parliament of the French Language Community has powers relating to areas of policy such as education, sport, scientific research, international development and cooperation, culture and media. Areas of policy such as transport, planning, employment (but not vocational training), the economy and foreign trade are the responsibility of the regions. The Parliament of the Francophone Language Community sits in Brussels.

The Government of the Francophone Language community is made up of a First Minister, currently the Francophone socialist Rudi Demotte, and six ministers with specific responsibilities for one or more policy area. Ministers in the Government of the French-Language Community sometimes have a double mandate, also being a Minister in the Walloon or Brussels Government at the same time. This is currently the case the for the Christian democrat René Colin. 

The Walloon Parliament

Housed in an impressive building in the Walloon capital Namur, the Walloon Parliament has 75 members. They are directly elected by voters in the 5 provinces that make up the Walloon Region.

All but two of the 75 Walloon MP’s are Francophones. The other 2 are German-Speakers. The Walloon Parliament is the only Parliament in Belgium that doesn’t use province-wide constituencies, instead using the old arrondissement-based constituencies to elect its MPs.

The Walloon Region is responsible for territory-based areas of policy such as transport, planning, agriculture, the economy, foreign trade, employment etc. Like the other regional and language community parliaments, the Walloon Parliament is a fixed-term parliament.

If the government falls it is up to the parties to find a new coalition that parliament can support. During the current legislature the Francophone socialists were ejected from power when their Christian democrat coalition partners entered into a new coalition with the liberals. 

The Parliament of the German-Language Community

The Parliament of the German-Language Community is directly elected by voters in the 9 municipalities in the East of Liège Province in which German is the official language.

Voters in the German-speaking municipalities are along with Brussels voters that vote for a Flemish party in the regional elections, the only Belgians that will be voting for 4, rather than 3 different parliaments on 26 May.

The German Language Community is responsible for areas of policy that “affect the person” such as education, sport, culture, the media, vocational training, tourism, child benefit etc. The parliament has 25 members. The government of German Language Community is made up of a First Minister and three other Ministers. The parliament sits in the largest German-speaking town in Belgium, Eupen.