5.1 General context
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There is no official definition of youth participation.
But youth participation is one of the main value of youth policies in the French-speaking Community.
Youth policies through youth decrees focus on the promotion of participation of young people by developing a responsible, active and critical citizenship, in a spirit of solidarity. Youth associations are dedicated to promoting the development of critical, active and responsible citizenship (CRAC). They do so by raising awareness about social realities and by promoting responsible attitudes through social, economic, cultural and political participation and socio-cultural practice.
CRAC is a common term used in youth policies decrees. It means Responsible Active and Critic Citizen.
Thematic movements are a type of youth organisation.
Institutions of representative democracy
Belgian Constitution states that Belgium is a Federal state composed of 3 Communities
- French-speaking Community
- Flemish Community which has merged with the Flemish Region
- German speaking Community.
and 3 Regions
- Flemish Region which has merged with the Flemish Community
Each level of power is in charge of its own field of competences:
- Federal level is in charge of matters related to social security, foreign affairs, defence, finance
- Regions are responsible for territory-related competences such as environment, employment, economy
- Communities manage person-related competences such as cultural matters, education, sports, youth welfare, research and training, justice houses.
In Belgium, elections take place only at:
- the European level
- the Federal level
- the Regional level
- The local level.
At Federal level, the legislative power belongs to the King and the Parliament. The Parliament consists of 2 Chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Elections take place every 5 years.
Regions have their own Government and their own Parliament. The deputies are elected directly every 5 years.
At local level, Belgium is composed of 10 provinces and 589 municipalities. Local and provincial legislation come under the Regions power. Each municipalities has its own representative bodies:
- The “bourgmestre” (mayor) is elected by the members of the municipal college.
- The municipal college is the executive body of the municipality. It is composed of the Bourgmestre, deputies and the President of the Public Centre for Social Action
- The municipal council is composed of 7 to 55 members elected directly by the inhabitants of the municipality. It is the legislative power at the level of the municipality.
Municipalities are the closest level of power for the population.
There are no elections implemented at the French-speaking Community’s level. The members of the Parliament of the French-speaking Community are not elected directly.
The French-speaking Community has its own Government and a unicameral Parliament. Parliament’s members are not elected directly. They are elected at the Regional level every 5 years. Parliament is the representative assembly of the population living in the French-speaking part of the Region of Wallonia and the French-speaking part of the Region of Brussels-Capital. It is composed of 94 deputies elected for 5 years:
- 75 elected members within the Parliament of the Walloon Region
- 19 elected members within the French-speaking group of the Parliament of the Region Brussels-Capital.
The Constitution states the main principles of elections in Belgium:
- Vote is compulsory
- Principle of universal suffrage
- The vote is secret
- Vote takes place at the municipality
- The principle of proportional representation is applied
- One person, one vote.