Government type:
federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy
Capital:
name: Brussels

Administrative divisions:
3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form)
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; the 2012 sixth state reform transferred additional competencies from the federal state to the regions and linguistic communities
Independence:
4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)
National holiday:
Belgian National Day (ascension to the throne of King LEOPOLD I), 21 July (1831)
Constitution:
history: drafted 25 November 1830, approved 7 February 1831, entered into force 26 July 1831, revised 14 July 1993 (creating a federal state)
amendments: "revisions" proposed as declarations by the federal government in accord with the king or by Parliament followed by dissolution of Parliament and new elections; adoption requires two-thirds majority vote of a two-thirds quorum in both houses of the next elected Parliament; amended many times, last in 2014 (2016)
Legal system:
civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts
International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Citizenship:
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belgium
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: King PHILIPPE (since 21 July 2013); Heir Apparent Princess ELISABETH, daughter of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister Charles MICHEL (since 11 October 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers Alexander DE CROO (since 22 October 2012), Jan JAMBON (since 11 October 2014), Kris PEETERS, Didier REYNDERS (since 30 December 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers formally appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and approved by Parliament
Legislative branch:
description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
the Senate or Senaat (in Dutch), Senat (in French) (60 seats; 50 members indirectly elected by the community and regional parliaments based on their election results, and 10 elected by the 50 other senators; members serve 5-year terms
Chamber of Representatives or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers (in Dutch), Chambre des Representants (in French) (150 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
note: the US does not recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly
note: the 1993 constitutional revision that further devolved Belgium into a federal state created three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly; changes above occurred since the sixth state reform
elections: Chamber of Representatives - last held on 25 May 2014 (next to be held in May 2019); note - elections will coincide with the EU's elections
election results: Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - N-VA 20.3%, PS 11.7%, CD&V 11.6%, Open VLD 9.8%, MR 9.6%, SP.A 8.8%, Groen 5.3%, CDH 5% PTB 3.7%, VB 3.7%, Ecolo 3.3%, Defi 1.8%, PP 1.5%, other 3.9%; seats by party - N-VA 33, PS 23, MR 20, CD&V 18, Open VLD 14, SP.A 13, CDH 9, Ecolo 6, Groen 6, VB 3, Defi 2, PTB 2, PP 1
Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Constitutional Court or Grondwettelijk Hof (in Dutch) and Cour constitutionelle (in French) (consists of 12 judges - 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) and Cour de Cassation (in French) (court organized into 3 chambers: civil and commercial; criminal; social, fiscal, and armed forces; each chamber includes a Dutch division and a French division, each with a chairperson and 5-6 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Constitutional Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by Parliament; judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 70; Supreme Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by the High Council of Justice, a 44-member independent body of judicial and non-judicial members; judges appointed for life
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; regional courts; specialized courts for administrative, commercial, labor, immigration, and audit issues; magistrate's courts; justices of the peace
Political parties and leaders:
Flemish parties:
Christian Democratic and Flemish or CD&V [Wouter BEKE]
Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Gwendolyn RUTTEN]
Groen [Meyrem ALMACI] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens)
New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]
Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [John CROMBEZ, Stephanie VAN HOUTVEN]
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Tom VAN GRIEKEN]
Francophone parties:
Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Patrick DUPRIEZ, Zakia KHATTABI]
Francophone Federalist Democrats or Defi [Olivier MAINGAIN]
Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Benoit LUTGEN]
People's Party or PP [Mischael MODRIKAMEN]
Reform Movement or MR [Olivier CHASTEL]
Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]
Workers' Party or PTB [Peter MERTENS]
other minor parties