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Chambre des Représentants (House of Representatives)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Last elections module

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Parlement fédéral - Federaal Parlement - Föderales Parlament / Federal Parliament
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Chambre des Représentants / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sénat - Senaat - Senat / Senate
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 10 June 2007
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
On 17 January 2007 Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt called parliamentary elections for 10 June 2007. The House of Representatives and the Senate were officially dissolved on 2 May.

Belgium is a federal State comprising a 6 million-strong Dutch-speaking Flemish community in the north and some 4.5 million French speakers in the south. The capital Brussels is officially bilingual. In addition there is a small German-speaking community accounting for less than 1 per cent of the population.

Mr. Verhofstadt has led two coalition governments since 1999. His party at the time the Liberal Party-Flemish (VLD) is currently called the Open VLD. Following the previous elections held in May 2003 he formed a coalition government comprising two Flemish parties (VLD and the Flemish Socialist Party-Spirit - SPA-Spirit) and two French-speaking parties (the Movement for Reform (MR) and the Socialist Party (PS)). The coalition controlled 97 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 45 of the 70 seats in the Senate.

This alliance was maintained for the 2007 election campaign. Mr. Verhofstadt called on voters' support for his government's economic policy highlighting the 200 000 jobs that had been created over the past four years. However his party and SPA-Spirit were reportedly losing ground in the Flemish community where their main rival the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V)-New Flemish Alliance (N-VA led by Mr. Bart De Wever) campaigned for more autonomy for the Flemish community.

The CD&V led by the Minister-President of the Flemish Government Mr. Yves Leterme pledged to give more power to the regions (which are already responsible for public works transport agriculture and the environment) in particular in the areas of labour policy justice and health.

Other main Flemish parties were the List Dedecker formed by Senator Jean-Marie Dedecker in January 2007 which promised to defend the interests of the Flemish community; and the Vlaams Belang. The latter was founded in November 2004 by former leaders of the Vlaams Block a far-right party advocating Flemish independence. It won 18 seats in the 2003 elections but was convicted of "repeated incitement to discrimination" by the High Court and disbanded in November 2004.

In Wallonia the PS led by Mr. Elio Di Rupo was reportedly losing ground to the MR. The MR leader Mr. Didier Reyders a strong advocate of a free market economy said he would seek a coalition government with the CD&V and the Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH formerly known as the Christian Social Party).

Voting being compulsory turnout has been traditionally high in Belgium. In the 2007 elections 91.08 per cent of the 7.7 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

As in the previous elections no party secured a majority in either chamber of parliament. The CD&V-N-VA won 30 seats in the House of Representatives and nine of the 40 directly elected seats in the Senate to become the largest party in both chambers. The MR came in second winning 23 and six seats respectively which made it the largest French-speaking party for the first time. The other parties in Prime Minister Verhofstadt's coalition government suffered major setbacks. The Open VLD won 18 seats (down from 25) in the House and five in the Senate. The SPA-Spirit took 14 (down from 23) and 3 respectively. Prime Minister Verhofstadt conceded defeat and submitted his resignation to King Albert II on 11 June.

On 28 June the members of the House of Representatives were sworn in alongside the 40 directly elected senators. House of Representatives did not elect its new speaker on 28 June. Finally on 12 July it chose Mr. Herman Van Rompuy (CD&V-N-VA) as its new Speaker.

On 5 July 21 senators designated by the Community Parliaments (see note 1) took office while 10 co-opted members (see note 2) were sworn in on 12 July. On the same day the Senate elected Mr. Armand De Decker (MR former Senate President between 1999 and 2004) as its President.

In the meantime on 12 June the King appointed the leader of the MR Mr. Didier Reynders as the Informateur whose role is to clarify the political landscape and inform the King of possible government coalitions. On 16 July King Albert II appointed Mr. Yves Leterme (CD&V) as the Formateur tasked with forming a new government. However the coalition talks involving the CD&V-N-VA the Open VLD the MR and the CDH were unsuccessful and Mr. Leterme resigned as Formateur on 23 August. On 29 September the King re-appointed him as Formateur. On 7 November the country marked its 149th day without a government breaking the previous record for the longest period without a government set in 1988.

On 21 December an emergency interim government comprising five parties (Open VLD MR CD&V PS and CDH) led by Mr. Verhofstadt was finally formed. It won a vote of confidence on 23 December ending the 196 day period without a government. It was tasked with passing the 2008 budget before 23 March 2008.

Note 1:
Ten senators each are designated by the Parliament of the French Community (Communauté française) and the Flemish Parliament (Vlaams Parlement) while the Parliament of the German-speaking Community nominates one member bringing the total number of designated senators to 21.

Note 2:
Six Dutch-speaking members and four French-speaking members were co-opted.
Voter turnout
Round no 110 June 2007
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
7'032'077 (91.08%)
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) - New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) 18.51
Movement for Reform (MR) 12.52
Socialist Party (PS) 10.86
Open vld 11.83
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) 11.99
Flemish Socialist Party - Spirit (SPA-Spirit) 10.26
Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH) 6.06
Greens - Walloon (Ecolo) 5.10
Dedecker List 4.03
Greens - Flamands (GROEN!) 3.98
National Front (FN) 1.97
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) - New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) 30 8
Movement for Reform (MR) 23 -1
Socialist Party (PS) 20 -5
Open vld 18 -7
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) 17 -1
Flemish Socialist Party - Spirit (SPA-Spirit) 14 -9
Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH) 10 2
Greens - Walloon (Ecolo) 8 4
Dedecker List 5
Greens - Flamands (GROEN!) 4 4
National Front (FN) 1 0
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
21 to 30 years
31 to 40 years
41 to 50 years
51 to 60 years
61 to 70 years
Over 70 years
Distribution of seats according to profession
Clerical occupations 49
Legal professions 25
Educators 21
Liberal professions (including artists authors) and sports professionals 20
Civil/public servants/administrators (including social/development workers) 15
Unknown 7
Medical professions (doctors dentists nurses) 6
Farmers/agricultural workers (including wine growers) 4
Media-related professions (journalists/publishers) 3
- http://elections2007.belgium.be/
- House of Representatives (03.07.2007 01.01.2008 01.01.2010)

Note on distribution of seats according to sex:
Fifty-five women were elected. Some female members were replaced by their male substitute members before the first session of 28 June. The number of women was thus decreased to 52 or 34.67 per cent.

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