Belgium: political system
Belgium is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary
system of government. The king is at the head of the state. At the federal
level, legislative power is exercised jointly by the King, the Chamber of
Deputies (150 members) and the Senate (71 members). The executive power
(executive power) rests in the hands of the king and the ministers. The king can
dissolve the federal parliament. Parliament can force the Federal Government to
resign by the Chamber of Deputies approving a motion of no confidence and
proposing a new Prime Minister to the King.
In the constitutional reform of 1993, a far-reaching threefolding of
the Belgian state was introduced to finally pacify the longstanding
cultural conflicts between the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking
Flemings. Since then, the country has been a federal state consisting
of three regions: Greater Brussels, Flanders and
Wallonia. Similarly, there is a threefold division into "language communities"
(Flemish, French and German-speaking communities). Nevertheless, the rifts
deepen between the Flemings in the north and the French-speaking Walloons in the
south. The federal government, the regions and the communities have separate
parliaments with different powers. The latter also overlap territorially in
terms of their responsibilities.
- The federal government is primarily responsible for
judicial, social, foreign and defense policy.
- Regional planning, science, public relations, agriculture, housing
policy, water, energy, economy, employment, transport and environmental
protection are the responsibility of the regional governments. These
are also responsible for external relations, thus also with regard to the EU Councils
of Ministers, provided that it is within their competences. Since Belgium
can only speak to the EU with one voice, the relevant Belgian institutions
must agree on a common position. If this is not possible, Belgium must
- The communities are responsible for education, personal
social affairs, language and culture.
According to Digopaul.com,
the official name of the country is:
|Koninkrijk België (Dutch)
Royaume de Belgique (French)
According to legend, the national anthem of Belgium was written in 1830 (the
year of the revolution in Belgium that led to independence) by the young
revolutionary and actor Alexandre Dechet (called Jenneval). It was set to music
by François van Campenhout in the same year. Jenneval was killed during the War
of Independence. It became the country's official anthem in 1830. It was revised
in 1860. The attacks on the Dutch royal family were eliminated. The official
text since 1921 is only the last stanza of the 1860 version, but the others are
also known and are sung.
||In the English translation
|Ô Belgique, ô mère chérie,
À toi nos cœurs, à toi nos bras,
À toi notre sang, ô Patrie!
Nous le jurons tous, tu vivras!
Tu vivras toujours grande et belle
Et ton invincible unité
Aura pour devise immortelle:
«Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté! »
|O dierbaar België, O holy land of the vaad'ren!
One goal en ons hart zijn u gewijd!
Aanvaard ons kracht en het bloed van onze aad'ren,
Wees ons doel in work en in strijd!
Bloei, o land, in eendracht rivet te breken;
Wees always U zelf en ongeknecht,
Het woord getrouw, dat Ge onbevreesd may say:
"Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!"
|O Belgium, O dear mother, you own
our hearts, our arms!
Our blood belongs to you, fatherland!
We all swear to you: you will live!
You will always live big and beautiful
and the motto of your
inviolable unity will be:
For King, Law and Freedom! (3x)
Based on flag descriptions by
Countryaah.com, the national flag (national flag) of Belgium was adopted on January 23, 1831,
shortly after Belgium gained independence from the Netherlands in the revolution
Belgium: short biographies of important people
Architects and builders
Victor Horta (1861 - 1947)
He is considered one of the most important representatives of Art Nouveau in
Belgium, especially in Brussels. After studying in Paris and Ghent, he moved to
Brussels after the death of his father in 1880. In 1885 he built his first three
houses, and in 1893 he became famous with the "Maison Tassel". Other important
works are: Hôtel Solvay (1894), 1898 Hôtel van Etvelde, 1903 Hôtel Max Hallet,
1894 Hôtel Solvay, in 1898 Hôtel van Etvelde, 1903 Hôtel Max Hallet.
Henry van de Velde (1863 - 1957)
One of the most famous architects and designers of Art Nouveau at all. After
studying painting in Antwerp and Paris, he turned to architecture and the arts
and crafts from 1892 after an intensive examination of the "Arts an Crafts"
movement. After moving to Berlin in 1900, he became an advisor to the Grand Duke
of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach and head of the arts and crafts school in Weimar from
1902. The "Bauhaus" emerged from the connection between the arts and crafts
school and the art college in 1919 under Gropius. In 1926 he became professor of
architecture in Ghent. He made the line the sole means of expression of his art
and is considered to be the co-founder of the Werkbund, for whose exhibition he
designed the theater in 1914.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (around 1525 - 1569)
Painter of the Dutch Renaissance at the transition to the Baroque, who became
famous for his drastic depictions of peasant life. First working in Antwerp, he
settled in Brussels after his trip to Italy (1552-1555) and founded a painter
dynasty with his sons. Important works are: The Fall of Icarus (1558), The Dutch
Proverbs (1559), The Tower of Babel (1563), Cockaigne (1567), The Peasant
Wedding (approx. 1568).
James Ensor (1860 - 1949) well-
known Belgian painter and graphic artist, who is regarded as a pioneer of
expressionism. After studying at the Art Academy in Brussels (1877/80), he
settled in Ostend, where he worked throughout his life. After being influenced
by Turner and the Impressionists, he devoted himself to Christian themes and
visions in the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch. Masks largely determined his
work. For Him they show the true character of people. Ensor created a fantasy
world by exaggerating colors, lines and shapes. It also heralded Belgian
surrealism. Important works are: The "Entry of Christ into Brussels", "Skeletons
want to warm themselves", "Death follows the herd of people".
Hergé (Georges Remi) (1907 - 1983)
He is one of the great comic artists in the world. The best known are his 24
books of the "aventures de Tintin", known to us as Tintin, which he drew since
1929 throughout his life. His pictures are copied from nature and really
exist. With his way of drawing he became style-forming.
René Magritte (1898-1967)
He is considered to be one of the most important representatives of
surrealism. After studying at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels
(1916/18), he secured the life of his family as a poster painter and advertising
artist. From 1926, after he was contractually bound to the "Le Centaure"
gallery, he only worked artistically. During his stay in Paris (1927/30) he was
significantly influenced by the Surrealists. From 1930 he lived again in
Brussels, where he also worked as an editor of art magazines until 1966. He was
friends with Andre Breton, Paul Elouard, Hans Arp and thus determined the inner
circle of Surrealists. Important works include: The lost jockey (1926), The
giantess (1929), The rape (1929), The sharp eye (1936), The flowers of evil
(1946), The presence of mind (1960),
Constantin Meunier (1831 - 1905)
He is considered to be the most important sculptor and painter of the 19th
century in Belgium. In his life he created over 800 sculptures, paintings and
drawings. His art is particularly related to the depiction of the life of the
working people in the mines of Belgium. In the beginning he was under the
artistic influence of Gustave Courbet. With fellow campaigners of the Belgian
avant-garde Charles de Groux and Félicien Rops, as well as others, he founded
the "Société Libre des Beaux-Arts" in 1868. Between 1887-1896 he took over a
professorship at the Academie Louvain. His 1900 house, which he designed
himself, has housed the Musée Meunier since 1939. Important works: including The
Sower (1896), bronze, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, "Le Grisou" (1889), bronze.
Morris (Maurice de Bevére) (1923 - 2001) is
one of the most important comic artists and became famous as the illustrator and
author of "Lucky Luke".
Peter Paul Rubens (around 1577 - 1640)
After an apprenticeship as a painter in Antwerp, he was accepted into the guild
in 1598 to continue his studies in Italy from 1600. After stays in Rome and
Madrid, he returned to Antwerp in 1608 to build one of the most important
studios of his time. He was also successful as a diplomat in the service of
Isabella of Spain and Charles I of England and was knighted. The aim of his art
was maximum dynamism and the greatest color effect, with which he equipped his
allegorical designs. He was also pioneering in landscape painting. Important
works are: Samson and Delilah (1609/1610), Judith with the head of Holofernes
(approx. 1616), The Battle of the Amazons (approx. 1619), Perseus liberates
Andromeda (1622), The Garden of Love (approx. 1632), The Little Pelt (ca.1638).
Jan van Eyck (around 1390 - 1441)
His realistic style of painting made him one of the most famous artists of old
Dutch painting. After a youth in the dark of history, he made his first
appearance in 1422 when he painted the courtyard of the Hague residence of
Johann von Bayern. After Johann's death he shaped the appearance of what was
then the most magnificent court in Europe under Phillip the Good as a "total
artist" from 1425. He was also on several diplomatic missions for him. His most
important works are: Ghent Altarpiece (around 1425-1432): Largest altar and
masterpiece of old Dutch painting, Madonna in the Church (1426), Madonna of
Chancellor Rolin (around 1435), The Arnolfini Wedding (1434), Margarethe van
Eyck (1439), et al
Jacques Brel (1929-1978)
Famous singer and actor who became the myth of French chanson. From the end of
the 50s he was one of the most listened chansonniers with over 500 written
songs. He was famous for his brilliant appearances at the Olympia, among
others. He retired from show business at the height of his career in 1976 and
died of lung cancer in 1978. Well-known songs are: La valse à mille temps,
Amsterdam, Ne me quitte pas.
Orlando di Lasso (around 1530 - 1594) is
considered one of the most important Renaissance composers of the 16th
century. In 1553 he became Kapellmeister in the Lateran in Rome and came to
Antwerp via France and England, where he published the first volume of his
four-part madrigals in 1555. From 1556 until the end of his life he was director
of the court orchestra, Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria. In 1570 he was ennobled by
Emperor Maximilian II.
César Franck (1822 - 1890)
Composer and organist of important organ works.
After first appearances as a pianist, the family moved to Paris, where he
attended the Paris Conservatory (1837/1842). From 1846 until his death he was
organist at Paris churches. From 1872 he held a professorship for organ at the
Henri Pousseur (born 1929)
Composer of the electronic avant-garde of the 20th century. After studying in
Liège and Brussels, he took part in new music courses in Darmstadt and
Donaueschingen. He founded the "Studio de musique électronique Apelac" in 1958
in Brussels. After teaching stays in Basel (1963/64) and the University of
Buffalo (1966/68), he has been teaching at the University of Liège since
1970. His work is indebted to Anton Webern, which he approaches with the means
of electronic music.
"Django" (Jean Baptiste) Reinhardt (1910 - 1953)
guitarist and band leader, who is considered to be the ancestor of European
jazz. By mixing New Orleans jazz, valses musettes and the music of the Sinti, he
developed a new style, the gypsy swing. With the violinist Grappelli he founded
the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, which existed until 1939 and was a
Adolphe Sax (1814-1894)
Adolphe Sax was born on November 6, 1814 in Dinant in the province of Namur in
Wallonia. At the Brussels National Exhibition in 1841 he presented a musical
instrument that was later named after him as the saxophone.
He died in Paris on February 7, 1894.
Robert Cailliau (born 1947)
Belgian computer scientist who worked with Tim Berners-Lee from 1990 onwards at
the European Nuclear Research Center CERN in Geneva to create the basis for the
Albert Claude (1899-1983)
Albert Claude was born on August 24, 1899 in Longlier. In 1974, together with
George Emil Palade and Christian de Duve, he received the Nobel Prize for
"Physiology or Medicine, namely:
" For their discoveries on the structural and functional organization of the
He died on May 22, 1983 in Brussels.
Christian René de Duve (1917-2013)
de Duve was a Belgian biochemist born in Greater Birtannia.
His parents fled to Great Britain during the First World War, but returned to
Antwerp after the end of the war in 1920 with the boy who was born there.
After academic studies in Stockholm and Washington, he was appointed professor
at the University of the Belgian city of Leuven in 1951. His great scientific
achievement consisted among other things in the discovery of the two cell
components lysosomes and peroxisomes.
In 1974 he received, together with Albert Claude and Emil Palade, the Nobel
Prize for "Physiology or Medicine":
"For their discoveries about the structural and functional organization of the
On May 4, 2013, he voluntarily passed away at the age of 95 using euthanasia.
He had previously announced that he was not afraid of death, because then he
would simply be gone. He wasn't religious!
François Englert (born 1932)
Englert was born on November 6, 1932 in Etterbeek - near Brussels. He graduated
from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) with a degree in electrical
engineering in 1955, where he also obtained his doctorate in physics in 1959. He
then worked as an assistant professor at Cornell University until 1961. On his
return to Brussels he was appointed professor at the local university. Together
with Robert Brou, he headed the local department for theoretical physics from
1980. In 1998 he retired and left the university.
Englert and the British Peter Higgs received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013
for their theoretical work in the field of particle physics
Higgs had predicted the existence of a boson, which gives all other particles
their mass, back in the 1960s. And Englert - independently of Higgs - postulated
the mechanism underlying the particle and its field.
In 2012, the Higgs boson was detected for the first time at the European
Research Center Cern near Geneva
Georges Lemaître (1894 - 1966)
physicist and priest, who is considered to be the founder of the Big Bang
theory. After the First World War he continued his mathematics and physics
studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, where he received his doctorate in
1920. At the same time he is preparing for the ordinariate (1923). After stays
in Cambridge and the USA, he began teaching in Leuven, where he published his
theories on the expansion of the universe between 1927 and 1933. After decades
of criticism, this theory is now widely accepted. In 1934 he received the
highest Belgian price, the Franqui Prize, for his work.
Gerhard Mercator (Gerard De Kremer) (1512 - 1594)
mathematician and cartographer after whom the conformal mapping on sea charts
was named (Mercator projection). From 1552 he lived in Duisburg, where he
produced the first map of Europe in 1562, in which the countries were shown true
to angle but not true to area.
Ilya Prigogine ( 1917 - 2003)
As a system critic, he left his family and Soviet Russia in 1921 and came to
Belgium via Germany in 1929, where he studied chemistry at the University of
Brussels and became a professor in 1950. After further teaching positions in
Austin (1959) and Chicago (1961/66) he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in
1977 for his studies on the theory of dissipative structures. In 1989 he was
ennobled. He was President of the International Academy of Science until his
Politicians and rulers
Auguste Beernaert (1829 - 1912)
Belgian lawyer and politician who made a name for himself as a pioneer of
international law for conflict resolution. The first Hague Peace Conference in
1899 was largely prepared by him. In 1909 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for
his commitment to peacekeeping.
Henri La Fontaine ( 1854 - 1943)
Similar to Auguste Beernaert, he dedicated his life as a lawyer and socialist
politician to securing world peace. As an advocate of international arbitration,
he was committed to pacifism. In 1891 he founded the Permanent International
Peace Bureau in Rome (Bureau International Permanent de la Paix) and was its
chairman until his death in 1907. In 1913 he received the Nobel Prize for his
Leopold I (von Sachsen-Coburg) (1790 - 1865)
From 1831-1865 he was the first king of Belgium. In the course of Belgium's
declaration of independence from the Netherlands on October 4th, 1830, he was
asked by the Belgian National Congress to take over the crown and took the oath
on the constitution on July 21st, 1831. In the following 8 years he led his
country through the war of independence with the Netherlands, which in 1839 led
to the contractually secured independence of Belgium. In the course of
industrialization, which he was open to, he built the first railway line on the
European mainland between Brussels and Mechelen (1835).
Albert II (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) (born 1934)
Governing King of Belgium. He is the youngest son of Leopold III. He was
abducted to Germany during World War II. He has been married to Paola since
1959, with whom he has three children: Philipp Leopold, Astrid Josephine,
Maurice Maeterlinck ( 1862 - 1949)
Belgian author whose play Pelléas et Mélisande (1892) became a landmark for
symbolism. It was set to music as an opera by Claude Debussy. As a bourgeois
child, he devoted himself to poetry after completing his compulsory law
studies. He sought proximity to the literary symbolists in Paris, such as
Stéphane Mallarmé, and became world famous in 1890 with the play "La princesse
maleine" (1899). His work was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature in
1911. In 1932 he was knighted by Albert I and in 1939 fled to the USA.
Georges Simenon (1903-1989)
World-famous Belgian author, best known for his crime stories about Commissioner
Maigret. His figure representations are characterized by the richness of detail
of the living conditions as well as by the psychological depth. This is what
defines the Reitz of his novels. Of his over 400 publications, some under a
pseudonym, 85 are his main character. Many of his crime novels have been filmed.
Émile Verhaeren (1855 - 1916)
After training as a lawyer, he joined the avant-garde at the artist's salon of
the writer Edmond Picard. After he published his first collection of poems "Les
Flamandes" in 1883, which became a scandal, he turned to the subject of urban
life and social aspects in the 1990s. He became world famous through his poetry
collections "Les campagnes hallucinées", "Les villes tentaculaires" and "Les
villages illusoires". In the First World War he fought against the murder with
Kim Clijsters (born 1983)
Successful Belgian tennis player and current winner of the 2005 US Open. In 2003
she was number 1 in the women's world rankings.
Stefan Everts (born 1972)
Seven-time motocross world champion in the 500cc class. Son of the four-time MC
world champion Harry Everts who coached his gifted son. At the age of 19, he won
his first World Cup title in 1999. Between 1995 and 1997 he was world champion
several times. After his serious injuries in 1999, he made a sensational
comeback with his World Championship title in 2000. With victories in the World
Championships in 2002 and 2003, he became the most successful motocross rider in
Jacky Ickx (born 1945)
Belgian motorsport champion in Formula 1, endurance races and rally raids. With
8 Formula 1 victories, including for Ferrari (from 1967) in 116 Grand Prix races
between 1968 and 1979, as well as two-time World Championship winner of the
World Endurance Championship, he is the country's most successful racing
driver. At 23 he was the youngest ever Grand Prix winner. With his 6 victories
in the endurance race at Le Mans he earned the title "Mr. Mans". He later
devoted himself to desert rallies and won the Paris-Dakar in 1983. Today he is
one of the organizers of the Egypt rally.
Eddy Merckx (born 1945)
Icon of professional cycling. Eddy Merckx was born on June 17, 1945 in
Meensel-Kiezegem as Édouard Louis Joseph Baron Merckx. The former professional
cyclist won the two most important tours, the Tour de France and the Giro
d'Italia, five times. In 1996 Merckx was awarded the title of baron by the
Belgian king. A subway station named after Eddy Merckx opened in Brussels in
2003. On his 65th birthday, the Belgian Post issued a postage stamp with his
likeness worth 1.18 euros in 2010. After a serious fall on his bike, he was
hospitalized with serious head injuries in October 2019.
Jean-Marie Pfaff (born 1953)
One of the world's best goalkeepers in football in the 1980s. In 1982 he moved
to Bayern Munich, with whom he became German champion three times within 6
years. With the Belgian national team, he was able to achieve the runner-up in
the European Championship in 1980. The 4th place at the World Cup in Mexico
(1986) is the greatest success of the Belgian team.
Albert Claude (1899 - 1983)
After studying medicine in Liège, first job in 1928 at the Institute for Cancer
Research in Berlin. He then moved to the USA, where he began researching the
endoplasmic reticulum and the function of mitochondria at the Rockefeller
Institute in New York from 1929. Despite being a US citizen, he returned in 1949
to research and teach in Leuven and at the same time in the USA. He received the
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 for his research on cell
Marc Dutroux (born 1956)
gained notoriety through a series of sexual abuse and murder of children and
adolescents aged 8-19. When he was arrested in 1996, he claimed to have been
just a henchman. An unbelievable series of mishaps between arrest and the start
of the trial (2004) led to the resignation of the Interior Minister, Justice
Minister and Police Chief. The disappearance of 27 witnesses through suicide,
accidents and other inexplicable ways caused the citizens of Belgium to lose
faith in their administration and government. The judgment of June 22nd, 2004
read: Life sentence.
Georges Pire (1910-1969)
Dominican monk who, as the founder of aid organizations, devoted himself to the
support of war victims and displaced persons. For his achievements he received
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958.
Adolphe Sax (1814 - 1894)
Belgian musician and instrument maker who became world famous for the invention
of the saxophone.
Jean Claude Van Damme (born 1960)
Belgian actor who became famous in Hollywood primarily for his action films. He
started a film career as a bodybuilder and karate fighter. He became famous with
"Bloodsport" (1987) and "Cyborg" (1989). As a co-author of "Leon" he was jointly
responsible for one of the most successful films of 1989.