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Constitution of Belgium (1831, rev. 2012)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1


3TITLE I. On Federal Belgium, Its Components and its Territory

4Article 1

5Belgium is a federal State composed of Communities and Regions.

6Article 2

7Belgium comprises three Communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community.

8Article 3

9Belgium comprises three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Region.

10Article 4

11Belgium comprises four linguistic regions: the Dutch-speaking region, the French-speaking region, the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital and the German-speaking region.

12Each municipality of the Kingdom forms part of one of these linguistic regions.

13The boundaries of the four linguistic regions can only be changed or corrected by a law passed by a majority of the votes cast in each linguistic group in each House, on condition that a majority of the members of each group is present and provided that the total number of votes in favour that are cast in the two linguistic groups is equal to at least two thirds of the votes cast.

14Article 5

15The Flemish Region comprises the following provinces:Antwerp, Flemish Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders and Limburg.The Walloon Region comprises the following provinces: Walloon Brabant, Hainaut, Liege, Luxembourg and Namur.

16A law is required, if it is found necessary, to further divide the territory to create more provinces.

17A law can exclude certain territories, of which it establishes the boundaries, from division into provinces, bring them directly under the federal executive power and subject them to a specific statute. This law must be passed by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph.

18Article 6

19Provincial subdivisions can only be established by virtue of a law.

20Article 7

21The boundaries of the State, the provinces and the municipalities can only be changed or corrected by virtue of a law.

22TITLE Ibis. On general political objectives of federal Belgium, the communities and the regions

23Article 7bis

24In the exercise of their respective competences, the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions pursue the objectives of sustainable development in its social, economic and environmental aspects, taking into account the solidarity between the generations.

25TITLE II. On Belgians and their rights

26Article 8

27The status as a Belgian citizen is acquired,kept and lost according to rules established by civil law.

28The Constitution and the other laws concerning political rights, establish, apart from this status, the necessary conditions for the exercising of these rights.

29In a departure from the second paragraph, the law can, in accordance with Belgium's international and supranational obligations, establish a right to vote for citizens of the European Union who are not Belgian citizens.

30The right to vote referred to in the preceding paragraph can be extended by a law to Belgian residents who are not citizens of a Member State of the European Union, under the conditions and in accordance with the terms specified in such a law.

31Transitional provision

32The law referred to in the fourth paragraph cannot be passed before 1 January 2001.

33Article 9

34Naturalisation is granted by the federal legislative power.

35Article 10

36No class distinctions exist in the State.

37Belgians are equal before the law; they alone are eligible for civil and military service, but for the exceptions that can be created by a law for particular cases.

38Equality between women and men is guaranteed.

39Article 11

40Enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised for Belgians must be provided without discrimination.To this end, laws and federate laws guarantee among others the rights and freedoms of ideological and philosophical minorities.

41Article 11bis

42The law, federate law or rule referred to in Article 134 guarantees that women and men may equally exercise their rights and freedoms, and in particular promotes their equal access to elective and public mandates.

43The Council of Ministers and the Governments of the Communities and the Regions include both women and men.

44The law, federate law or rule referred to in Article 134 provides for women and men to sit on the permanent deputations of the provincial councils, the colleges of the burgomasters and aldermen, the councils and permanent committees of the public centres for social welfare and on the executives of any other inter-provincial, inter-municipal or intra-municipal territorial body.

45The preceding paragraph does not apply when the law, federate law or rule referred to in Article 134 provides for the direct election of the members of the permanent deputations of the provincial councils, of aldermen, of the members of the councils and permanent committees of the social welfare centres or of the members of the executives of any other inter-provincial, inter-municipal or intra-municipal territorial body.

46Article 12

47The freedom of the individual is guaranteed.

48No one can be prosecuted except in the cases provided for by the law, and in the form prescribed by the law.

49Except in the case of a flagrant offence, no one can be arrested except on the strength of a reasoned judge's order, which must be served at the time of arrest or at the latest within twenty-four hours.

50Article 13

51No one can be separated, against his will, from the judge that the law has assigned to him.

52Article 14

53No punishment can be introduced or administered except by virtue of the law.

54Article 14bis

55Capital punishment is abolished.

56Article 15

57One's home is inviolable; no house search may take place except in the cases provided for by the law and in the form prescribed by the law.

58Article 16

59No one can be deprived of his property except in the case of expropriation for a public purpose, in the cases and manner established by the law and in return for fair compensation paid beforehand.

60Article 17

61Assets may not be confiscated as a means of punishment.

62Article 18

63Civil death is abolished; it cannot be re-introduced.

64Article 19

65Freedom of worship, its public practice and freedom to demonstrate one's opinions on all matters are guaranteed, but offences committed when this freedom is used may be punished.

66Article 20

67No one can be obliged to contribute in any way whatsoever to the acts and ceremonies of a religion or to observe its days of rest.

68Article 21

69The State does not have the right to intervene either in the appointment or in the installation of ministers of any religion whatsoever or to forbid these ministers from corresponding with their superiors, from publishing the acts of these superiors, but, in this latter case, normal responsibilities as regards the press and publishing apply.

70A civil wedding should always precede the blessing of the marriage, apart from the exceptions to be established by the law if needed.

71Article 22

72Everyone has the right to the respect of his private and family life, except in the cases and conditions determined by the law.

73The laws, federate laws and rules referred to in Article 134 guarantee the protection of this right.

74Article 22bis

75Each child is entitled to have his or her moral, physical, mental and sexual integrity respected.

76Each child has the right to express his or her views in all matters affecting him or her, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with his or her age and maturity.

77Each child has the right to benefit from measures and facilities which promote his or her development.

78In all decisions concerning children, the interest of the child is a primary consideration.

79The law, federate law or rule referred to in Article 134 ensures these rights of the child.

80Article 23

81Everyone has the right to lead a life in keeping with human dignity.

82To this end, the laws, federate laws and rules referred to in Article 134 guarantee economic, social and cultural rights, taking into account corresponding obligations, and determine the conditions for exercising them.

83These rights include among others:

84 1.the right to employment and to the free choice of an occupation within the context of a general employment policy, aimed among others at ensuring a level of employment that is as stable and high as possible, the right to fair terms of employment and to fair remuneration, as well as the right to information, consultation and collective negotiation;

85 2.the right to social security, to health care and to social, medical and legal aid;

86 3.the right to decent accommodation;

87 4.the right to the protection of a healthy environment;

88 5.the right to cultural and social fulfilment.

89Article 24

901. Education is free; any preventive measure is forbidden; the punishment of offences is regulated only by the law or federate law.

91The community offers free choice to parents.

92The community organises non-denominational education.This implies in particular the respect of the philosophical, ideological or religious beliefs of parents and pupils.

93Schools run by the public authorities offer, until the end of compulsory education, the choice between the teaching of one of the recognised religions and non-denominational ethics teaching.

942. If a community, in its capacity as an organising authority, wishes to delegate powers to one or several autonomous bodies, it can only do so by federate law adopted by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast.

953. Everyone has the right to education with the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. Access to education is free until the end of compulsory education.

96All pupils of school age have the right to moral or religious education at the community's expense.

974. All pupils or students, parents, teaching staff or institutions are equal before the law or federate law. The law and federate law take into account objective differences, in particular the characteristics of each organising authority that warrant appropriate treatment.

985. The organisation, the recognition and the subsidising of education by the community are regulated by the law or federate law.

99Article 25

100The press is free; censorship can never be introduced; no security can be demanded from authors, publishers or printers.

101When the author is known and resident in Belgium, neither the publisher, the printer nor the distributor can be prosecuted.

102Article 26

103Belgians have the right to gather peaceably and without arms, in accordance with the laws that can regulate the exercise of this right, without submitting it to prior authorisation.

104This provision does not apply to open air meetings, which are entirely subject to police regulations.

105Article 27

106Belgians have the right to enter into association or partnership; this right cannot be subject to any preventative measure.

107Article 28

108Everyone has the right to address petitions signed by one or more persons to the public authorities.

109Constituted bodies are alone entitled to address petitions under a collective name.

110Article 29

111The confidentiality of letters is inviolable.

112The law determines which officials may violate the confidentiality of letters entrusted to the postal service.

113Article 30

114The use of languages spoken in Belgium is optional; only the law can rule on this matter, and only for acts of the public authorities and for judicial affairs.

115Article 31

116No authorisation is necessary prior to taking legal action against civil servants for offences resulting from their administration, except with regard to what has been ruled on concerning ministers and members of the Community and Regional Governments.

117Article 32

118Everyone has the right to consult any administrative document and to obtain a copy, except in the cases and conditions stipulated by the laws, federate laws or rules referred to in

119Article 134.

120TITLE III. On powers

121Article 33

122All powers emanate from the Nation.

123These powers are exercised in the manner laid down by the Constitution.

124Article 34

125The exercising of specific powers can be assigned by a treaty or by a law to institutions of public international law.

126Article 35

127The federal authority only has competences in the matters that are formally assigned to it by the Constitution and the laws passed by virtue of the Constitution itself.

128The Communities and the Regions, each in its own field of concern, have competences for the other matters, under the conditions and in the terms stipulated by the law.This law must be adopted by a majority as described Article 4, last paragraph.

129Transitional provision

130The law referred to in the second paragraph determines the date on which this article comes into force. This date cannot precede the date of the entry into force of the new article to be inserted in Title III of the Constitution, which determines the competences exclusive to the federal authority.

131Article 36

132The federal legislative power is exercised jointly by the King, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

133Article 37

134The federal executive power, as regulated by the Constitution, belongs to the King.

135Article 38

136Each Community has those powers which are recognised by the Constitution or by the laws passed by virtue of the Constitution.

137Article 39

138The law assigns to the regional bodies that it creates and that are composed of elected representatives the power to manage the matters that it determines, with the exception of those referred to in Articles 30 and 127 to 129, within the scope and according to the manner laid down by a law.This law must be passed by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph.

139Article 40

140Judiciary power is exercised by the courts.

141Court decisions are executed in the name of the King.

142Article 41

143Interests which are exclusively of a municipal or provincial nature are ruled on by municipal or provincial councils, according to the principles laid down by the Constitution.

144The rule referred to in Article 134 defines the competences, working rules and mode of election of intra-municipal territorial bodies that are authorised to regulate matters of municipal interest.

145These intra-municipal territorial bodies are created in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants following the initiative of the municipal council. Their members are directly elected. In implementation of a law adopted by a majority as described in Article 4, last paragraph, the federate law or rule referred to in Article 134 regulates the other conditions and the way in which such intra-municipal territorial bodies may be created.

146This federate law and the rule referred to in Article 134 can only be adopted by a majority of two thirds of the votes cast, under the condition that the majority of the members of the Parliament concerned is present.

147Matters of municipal or provincial interest can be the subject of a referendum in the municipality or province concerned.The rule referred to in Article 134 regulates the procedures and arrangements for the referendum.

148Chapter I. On the federal houses

149Article 42

150The members of the two Houses represent the Nation, and not only those who elected them.

151Article 43

1521. For cases determined by the Constitution, the elected members of each House are divided into a Dutch linguistic group and a French linguistic group, in the manner determined by the law.

1532. The senators referred to in Article 67, § 1, 1°, 3° and 6° make up the Dutch linguistic group of the Senate.The senators referred to in Article 67, § 1, 2°, 4° and 7° make up the French linguistic group of the Senate.

154Article 44

155The Houses meet by right each year on the second Tuesday of October, unless they have been convened prior to this by the King.

156The Houses must meet for at least forty days each year.

157The King pronounces the closing of the session.

158The King has the right to convene the Houses to an extraordinary meeting.

159Article 45

160The King can adjourn the Houses. However, the adjournment cannot be for longer than one month, nor can it be repeated in the same session without the consent of the Houses.

161Article 46

162The King has the right to dissolve the House of Representatives only if the latter, with the absolute majority of its members:

163 1.either rejects a motion of confidence in the Federal Government and does not propose to the King, within three days of the day of the rejection of the motion, the appointment of a successor to the prime minister;

164 2.or adopts a motion of no confidence with regard to the Federal Government and does not simultaneously propose to the King the appointment of a successor to the prime minister;

165 The motions of confidence and no confidence can only be voted on forty-eight hours after the tabling of the motion.

166Moreover, the King may, in the event of the resignation of the Federal Government, dissolve the House of Representatives after having received its agreement expressed by the absolute majority of its members.

167The dissolution of the House of Representatives entails the dissolution of the Senate.

168The act of dissolution convenes the electorate within forty days and the Houses within two months.

169Article 47

170The sittings of the Houses are public.

171Nevertheless, each House can meet in camera at the request of its president or of ten members.

172It decides afterwards, by absolute majority, whether the sitting must be continued in public on the same subject.

173Article 48

174Each House verifies the credentials of its members and judges any dispute that can be raised on this matter.

175Article 49

176One cannot be a member of both Houses at the same time.

177Article 50

178Any member of either House appointed by the King as minister and who accepts this appointment ceases to sit in Parliament and takes up his mandate again when the King has terminated his office as minister. The law determines the rules for his replacement in the House concerned.

179Article 51

180Any member of either House appointed by the Federal Government to any salaried position other than that of minister and who accepts the appointment immediately ceases to sit in Parliament and only takes his seat again after having been re-elected.

181Article 52

182Each session, each House appoints its president, its vice-presidents, and forms its bureau.

183Article 53

184All resolutions are passed by an absolute majority of the votes cast, except for what is established by the rules of procedure of the Houses with regard to elections and nominations.

185If the vote is tied, the proposal submitted for discussion is rejected.

186Neither of the two Houses can pass a resolution unless a majority of its members is present.

187Article 54

188Except for budgets and laws requiring a special majority, a reasoned motion signed by at least three-quarters of the members of one of the linguistic groups and tabled following the depositing of the report and prior to the final vote in a public sitting can declare that the provisions that it designates of a Government bill or private member's bill can gravely damage relations between the Communities.

189In this case, Parliamentary procedure is suspended and the motion is referred to the Council of Ministers, which within thirty days gives its reasoned opinion on the motion and invites the House involved to pronounce on this opinion or on the Government bill or private member's bill that, if need be, has been amended.

190This procedure can be applied only once by the members of a linguistic group with regard to the same Government bill or private member's bill.

191Article 55

192Votes are cast by sitting and standing or by call-over; on the laws as a whole is always voted by call-over.The election and nomination of candidates are carried out by secret ballot.

193Article 56

194Each House has the right to hold an enquiry.

195Article 57

196It is forbidden to present petitions to the Houses in person.

197Each House has the right to send to ministers petitions that are addressed to it.The ministers are obliged to explain the content of these petitions whenever the House so requires.

198Article 58

199No member of either House can be prosecuted or be the subject of any investigation with regard to opinions expressed and votes cast by him in the exercise of his duties.

200Article 59

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  • Theoretical/Philosophical
  • Historical Commentary
  • Constitutional Interpretation
  • Current Events
  • International Perspectives
  • Other
  • separation of powers
  • rules
  • Rufus King
  • slave
  • slave labor
  • slavery
  • slave trade
  • Revolution
  • republicanism
  • presidency
  • Oliver Ellsworth
  • record
  • records
  • republican
  • representation
  • slaves
  • states
  • William Jackson
  • Western Territory
  • Virginia Plan
  • taxes
  • taxation
  • three-fifths clause
  • twenty-year compromise
  • vice president
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • North Carolina
  • new states
  • delegates
  • Delaware
  • contract clause
  • Dred Scott
  • due process
  • Elbridge Gerry
  • economics
  • Congress
  • confederation
  • Antifederalist
  • anti-slavery
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Bill of Rights
  • confederacy
  • compromise
  • electoral college
  • failures
  • Luther Martin
  • legislature
  • judicial branch
  • Magna Carta
  • morality
  • New Jersey Plan
  • navigation acts
  • journal
  • John Dickinson
  • Federalist
  • federalism
  • General Pinckney
  • George Washington
  • James Madison
  • international trade
  • 3/5 clause
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