Eliane Tillieux becomes the first ever female Speaker of the House of Representatives

Tuesday 13 October was something of an historic day as MPs in Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives voted to elected the parliament’s first ever female speaker. While Belgium has already had a female Prime Minister and the Speakers of the Belgian Senate and the Flemish Parliament are both women, no woman had ever made to the position of the Speaker of most important assembly at Belgium’s federal level of governance, the Chamber of Representatives. 

Until today that is. During a sitting on Tuesday afternoon the Francophone socialist MP Eliane Tillieux was elected speaker with the support of 91 of the 131 MPs that expressed a preference. Her opponent, also a woman, the Flemish nationalist MP Valerie Van Peel got 40 votes.

The first woman in history to be entitled to call herself “First citizen of Belgium” is a former minister in the Walloon regional government. However, she lost her ministerial post in 2017 when the socialists were ejected from the Walloon Government in favour of the liberals. Eliane Tillieux was elected a federal MP at last May’s elections.

In her speech the new Speaker said that her election to the post is “historic”. She also she pointed to the fact that both chambers of the Federal Parliament now have women Speakers. Last week the Flemish liberal Stephanie D’Hose became the new Speaker of the Belgian Senate.

Ms Tillieux follows on from the Flemish liberal Patrick Dewael. 

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