After the federal elections of June 13, 2010, it took Belgian politicians 541 days to agree on a new state reform and to form a government. On December 6, 2011, the government of Prime Minister Di Rupo took the oath. As a result, Belgium became holder of the (unofficial) world record of longest government formation period. The Flemish right-wing nationalist party (N-VA) convincingly won the elections in Dutch-speaking Flanders, while the Socialist Party (PS) acquired most votes in French-speaking Wallonia. After negotiations of nearly 18 months, the negotiating parties reached the Butterfly Agreement on the Sixth State Reform of October 11, 2011. This State Reform, inter alia, includes a transfer of powers of approximately 20 billion euros from the federal level to the level of the federated states (i.e., the regions and communities); a substantial increase of fiscal autonomy for the regions; a reform of the Senate including an abolition of its direct election; a decision to principally hold coincident elections of the European, federal, and federated level in the future; and a historic split of the electoral district Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. This contribution analyzes the latter three evolutions regarding the Belgian electoral system resulting from the Sixth State Reform. Moreover, concluding remarks are made to situate the latest state reform in the ongoing institutional evolution of the particularly Belgian model of consociational democracy, which is strongly characterized by voluntary and mandatory cooperation as well as complicated compromises.

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Keywords Belgium, Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, coincident elections, consociational democracy, Senate, Sixth State Reform
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Journal Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy
Goossens, J. (Jurgen). (2017). Electoral reforms in Belgium's sixth state reform: Historic split of electoral constituency BHV, reform of the senate, and coincident elections. In Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy (Vol. 16, pp. 316–324). doi:10.1089/elj.2016.0420