Courtesy Reuters

The Constitutional Crisis in Belgium

THE discussion of the Belgian constitutional crisis has somewhat subsided for the moment, at least outside Belgium; but the problem remains serious. In a letter to the Regent on July 18 last, King Leopold III made known that, for the time being, he wished neither to abdicate nor to reign; he had decided to wait, he said, until such time as public opinion had clearly manifested itself on the question of his return or abdication. For its part, the Belgian Government, with the approval of the Regent and no doubt of the King himself, obtained from Parliament a law providing that the Regency would be terminated only if and when Parliament had duly certified that Leopold's inability to exercise his functions had ceased. Official quarters were of the opinion that this vote, in effect, brought the debate to a close; but that was perhaps wishful thinking. For Leopold's supporters, and apparently he himself, nourish the fond hope that after the elections next spring Parliament will have a majority favorable to his restoration. With this end in view, certain circles, especially in the rural districts, continue to agitate and stage demonstrations. The indications are that a revival of the controversy is unavoidable as the election draws near.

This state of affairs in Belgium would suffice in itself to justify an attempt to give American observers an objective statement of the whole question. But it is of interest on wider and more lasting grounds also. The crisis of the Belgian monarchy has brought to light certain new facts about the monarchial institution as it functions at present in various European states.

II. THE RÔLE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH IN BELGIUM

In contrast with many others, the Belgian monarchy is not the successor or heir to an ancient monarchy of absolute character, but was created by an act of the Congress summoned by the revolutionary government in November 1830 to draw up a Constitution. In Belgium, the Constitution does not represent a concession made by

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