Het voorzitterschap van Kamer en Senaat in België (1918-1974) : Van parlementaire autonomie naar partijdige afhankelijkheid

  • Emmanuel Gerard


This article analyses the election of the Speakers of both houses of the Belgian parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate, in the period 1918-1974. According to the Belgian constitution, the election of the Speaker is a competence of each house. As can be expected in a system of parliamentary government, the Speakers belong to the government majority, as they did already before 1914. But with the disappearance of a homogeneous majority and the need for cabinet coalitions after 1918 - result of the proportional representation - some
effects which tended to erode parliamentary autonomy more substantially occurred.  At several occasions the election of the Speakers was postponed until the result of cabinet formation was known. In addition, the coalition parties had to make an agreement for the partition of the two Speakers' positions. The coalition practice also affected procedure. Since agreements were less easily implemented in a secret ballot, the provisions of the parliamentary statute were put aside for an election by acclamation to strengthen party discipline. In this context a further shift in the election process occurs: from the parliamentary groups to the party leadership. Eventually, the appointment of the Speakers became
part of the cabinet formation itself.  This practice appears to be firmly established in the 1970' and has been criticized severely. It can be considered one aspect of the decline of parliaments in this period.

How to Cite:

Gerard, E., (1999) “Het voorzitterschap van Kamer en Senaat in België (1918-1974) : Van parlementaire autonomie naar partijdige afhankelijkheid”, Res Publica 41(1), 121-155. doi:

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Published on
30 Mar 1999
Peer Reviewed