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  #1  
Old 10-20-2010, 06:28 AM
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Belgian Abdication, Succession and Constitutional Issues

Several Belgian newspapers yesterday ran the story that King Albert II was supposed to abdicate in December, after Belgium's presidency of the EU ends. According to press reports the 'news' comes from politicians of the Walloon Liberal party (though they do not say who).

The king wanted to use the positive atmosphere that the presidency would bring, ánd the political stability that he expected to last longer, to give the torch to his son. However, the new political 'crisis' that belgium is in since April made the king change his mind.

The prime minister, the spokes person of the palace (Pierre-Emmanuel Bauw) and the leader of the Walloon liberal party (Didier Reynders) all denied that such a plan ever existed.

Although Belgium does not have a tradition of abdications like The Netherlands and Luxembourg, many still expected the king to abdicate at one point.

source: gva.be
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Old 10-20-2010, 06:39 AM
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And in the mean time, the N-VA party of Bart de Wever suggested a constitutional change to limit the role of the monarch. The N-VA wants to do this during the reign of king Albert II, so not to create the impression that the change will be made for Pricne Philippe personally. Of course, some Flemish newspapers say that that is exactly why they want to change the law (sigh).

Article in Dutch, from the Standaard.

-
Note that the article says that the 'Wetstraat' (the street where the government and politicians etc. meet) expects the king to abdicate at one point.
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Old 02-20-2016, 08:20 AM
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Two N-VA MPs and a professor of constitutional law commented on the unconstitutionality of last year's marriage decree; the government replied with non-answers.

http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post1842078
http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage...5201606223.xml
'Amedeogate: koning Filip treedt buiten de grondwet' - België - Knack.be
Le roi Philippe et Charles Michel accusés par la N-VA d'avoir violé la Constitution - Belgique - LeVif.be
Amedeo, Charles Michel et l'entourloupette politico-royale - Belgique - LeVif.be
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Somebody View Post
I believe it is constitutionally rather straight forward: she was not born out of an approved marriage, so she is not in line to the throne. Even Albert's half-brother and half-sisters were not, while their parents were married, so she has even less of a case.
I will restate that I do not think Delphine will seek or be given a position in the order of succession, but the constitution is not as straightforward as that. There is no explicitly stated rule that heirs must be born out of an approved marriage.

The official interpretation provided by the government in 1991 was that Albert's half-siblings were not in line because their parents were not married constitutionally, in spite of being civilly married.

https://www.senate.be/lexdocs/S0509/S05091665.pdf

I do not know, but the legal terminology of legitimacy might still have been incorporated in Belgian civil law at the time they were born in the 1940s and 1950s, unlike the present law. Perhaps someone who knows more about the history of Belgian law could confirm or deny that.
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:59 PM
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Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'. Delphine is 'onwettig' as Albert was and is married to Paola.

In addition, several articles refer to her 'husband' James O'Hare. If he truly is her husband (not just partner), her marriage was not recognized by the king, so, she wouldn't be in line to the throne anymore had she had any chance of ending up in line to the throne.

Constitution of Belgium; article 85 (in Dutch - you can also find the French and German versions here):
Quote:
Art. 85
De grondwettelijke macht van de Koning gaat bij erfopvolging over op de natuurlijke en wettige nakomelingschap, in de rechte lijn, van Z.M. Leopold, Joris, Christiaan, Frederik van Saksen-Coburg en volgens eerstgeboorterecht.
De in het eerste lid bedoelde nakomeling die huwt zonder toestemming van de Koning of van hen die, bij gebreke van de Koning, zijn macht uitoefenen in de bij de Grondwet bepaalde gevallen, verliest zijn recht op de kroon.
Hij kan echter in zijn recht worden hersteld door de Koning of door hen die, bij gebreke van de Koning, zijn macht uitoefenen in de bij de Grondwet bepaalde gevallen, doch alleen met instemming van beide Kamers.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
The official interpretation was that he (and of course his sisters) were excluded from birth as they were constitutionally not legitimate notwithstanding that they were legitimate in civil law. As such, Prince Alexandre did not require consent to marry as he had no succession rights to lose, per the official interpretation.

Please refer to my response to Somebody, which I have updated with a link to the official interpretation provided by the Prime Minister: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855

.

I don't know what the PM said, but I don't see how they could have married "unconstitutionally" as the King of the Belgians, unlike the King of the Netherlands or the King of Denmark, does not need consent to marry under the constitution (only his successors do).



There might be a constitutional question about Leopold being able to exercise the royal prerogative during the war , but that would not have precluded him from getting married and, even if he were suspended from exercising the royal prerogative, that would not affect the succession rights of his descendants.



In fact, the only requirements to be in the line of succession are being a direct, natural and legitimate descendant of Leopold I (which Alexandre was) and not having married without consent (which is the only requirement he failed in my opinion).



So, with all due respect, I think the PM was wrong and his statement, if he made it, was probably a political, rather than a legal one.



And I suppose you agree that, even if the marriage were deemed "constitutional", Albert's half-sisters wouldn't have succession rights anyway.


EDIT: An interesting discussion on the topic is found in the link below.


https://www.heraldica.org/topics/roy...c.htm#validity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Somebody View Post
Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'. Delphine is 'onwettig' as Albert was and is married to Paola.

The French version is stronger since it uses the word "légitime" specifically. When I saw the Dutch version "wettige", I actually thought Delphine had a case if she was recognized as the legal daughter of Albert, as she will inevitably be. But the French version leaves less room for doubt, unless legal recognition implies legitimization.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
I don't know what the PM said, but [...]
I would encourage you to read what the PM (and the constitutional experts whom he cites) said, as the points you raised are addressed.

As I said, the link is posted here: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855


Quote:
Originally Posted by Somebody View Post
Within the constitution it states: 'natuurlijk & wettige nakomelingschap' (natural and lawful descendants). My interpretation of 'wettige nakomelingschap' is that the child needs to be born within a marriage; as that has always been considered to be meant by 'wettig nakomelingschap'.
If I remember correctly, the Civil Code was modeled on the Code Napoleon, per which the child became legitimate on the parents' marriage, so a child born out of wedlock whose parents were eventually married would probably have been legally considered legitimate at the time the Constitution was written.

Nonetheless, that would not extend to Delphine (if recognized as the daughter of Albert rather than Jacques), so I personally would agree with your interpretation. However, there are those who argue that the elimination of illegitimacy from civil law signifies that all children are now considered legitimate.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
I would encourage you to read what the PM (and the constitutional experts whom he cites) said, as the points you raised are addressed.

As I said, the link is posted here: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ml#post2288855




THe central point in his argument is that a marriage of the king is "an act of the king" requiring ministerial countersignature in the sense of the constitution. As the link I posted above argues, that is far from being an universally accepted proposition and, in my humble opinion, it is absurd.


In any case, the point is that the PM does not have to resort to far-fetched arguments to justify Alexandre's or his sisters' exclusion. It suffices to apply a straighforward reading of the constitution. His sisters don't have succession rights because cognatic succession does not apply to them and Alexandre would have been excluded anyway because he married without consent. The only difference in the PM's interpretation is that he believes the exclusion was from birth and I do not.


I would also suggest to the PM that, if he thinks that it is important for the King of the Belgians to ask for consent to marry, he should have proposed a constitutional amendment to write that down explicitly in the Belgian constitution following the Danish or Dutch examples.
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Old 01-28-2020, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
THe central point in his argument is that a marriage of the king is "an act of the king" requiring ministerial countersignature in the sense of the constitution. As the link I posted above argues, that is far from being an universally accepted proposition and, in my humble opinion, it is absurd.
I have read the linked article before; it is clearly informative and well argued, but it only covers the validity of the marriage under civil law, which the Prime Minister did not dispute.

I would say the Prime Minister's central point is that a marriage of the king cannot be a political act in the sense of the constitution without the ministerial countersignature required for political acts. In the absence of a countersignature, the marriage is a civil act of the private citizen Léopold de Saxe-Cobourg affecting the civil rights of his children, but it is not a constitutional act of the King which would confer constitutional rights on the children. That seems reasonable to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
In any case, the point is that the PM does not have to resort to far-fetched arguments to justify Alexandre's or his sisters' exclusion. It suffices to apply a straighforward reading of the constitution. His sisters don't have succession rights because cognatic succession does not apply to them and Alexandre would have been excluded anyway because he married without consent. The only difference in the PM's interpretation is that he believes the exclusion was from birth and I do not.
At the time he delivered his speech Prince Alexandre was unmarried, at least in Belgian law. His and Léa Wolman's marriage in the United Kingdom was not registered in Belgium (or even announced) until 1998.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbruno View Post
I would also suggest to the PM that, if he thinks that it is important for the King of the Belgians to ask for consent to marry, he should have proposed a constitutional amendment to write that down explicitly in the Belgian constitution following the Danish or Dutch examples.
On page 6 of the document the Prime Minister quotes a source stating that the Government read an act consenting to King Baudouin's marriage at his wedding, so the interpretation seems to have been acted on, even without a constitutional amendment.
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