Monday, February 10, 2014

Wasn't expecting that: Belgium adopts a Canadian-style Senate

Belgium, having moved from a unitary state to a federation in recent decades, has now reformed its upper house. Who says no one loves the Canadian Senate? Belgium has moved from a directly-elected to a mostly appointed upper house and transformed its role from actually powerful to mostly symbolic, all the while claiming that the new powerless version will be a forum for the regions.
The newest reform will change the composition of the Senate to 50 elected indirectly by the Community/Regional parliaments and 10 co-opted, removing all directly-elected members. Its powers and functions will also be hugely curtailed: it will no longer take part in regular legislation, will no longer have the power of inquiry or to ask ministers questions. The only legislative power it retains regards to the constitution and the monarchy. Instead of being a true legislative chamber, the Senate is supposed to become a forum for the Regions and Communities. The reform was a compromise between those wishing to abolish and those wanting to retain the chamber (the latter being mainly French-speaking parties, if I’m not mistaken).
Fruits and Votes has more.
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