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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The area within Belgium known as Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde encompasses the bilingual (French and Dutch) Brussels-Capital Region, which coincides with the administrative arrondissement of Brussels-Capital and the surrounding Dutch-speaking area of Halle-Vilvoorde, which in turn coincides with the administrative Halle-Vilvoorde administrative Arrondissement. Halle-Vilvoorde contains several municipalities with language facilities, i.e. municipalities where French-speaking people form a considerable part of the population and therefore have special language rights.

This area forms the judicial arrondissement of Brussels, which is the location of a Court of First Instance, Commercial Court and a Labour Court. It was reformed in July 2012 as part of the sixth Belgian state reform.

It also forms the more commonly known electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, which, as part of the same 2012 reform, was completely split into a Brussels electoral district and, together with the electoral district of Leuven, into the electoral district of the province of Flemish Brabant. All Belgian electoral arrondissements now coincide with the Belgian provinces. The Brussels-Capital Region does not belong to any province and has formed its own electoral district since July 2012. Before the splitting, the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde was an exception since Halle-Vilvoorde is part of the province of Flemish Brabant, the other part being the Arrondissement of Leuven (which formed its own electoral district). One peculiarity remaining after the reform is that inhabitants of the six municipalities with language facilities around Brussels can still choose to vote for electoral lists of the Brussels-Capital Region.

Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde has been the subject of a highly sensitive dispute within Belgium and was one of the main topics of the 2007–2011 Belgian political crisis. A majority of the Flemings wanted to split it into two arrondissements (like the administrative ones), while the Francophones wanted to keep it as it was or, at a minimum, split it with concessions.

The lists for the federal and European elections were composed of both Dutch and French-language parties (in all other electoral areas it is either Dutch or French-language parties), while the area is partly monolingual Halle-Vilvoorde and bilingual Brussels. Consequently:

  • French-speakers living in monolingual Dutch-speaking Halle-Vilvoorde could vote for French-language parties; whereas
  • Dutch-speakers living in monolingual French-speaking Walloon Brabant could not vote for Dutch-language parties.

In 2003, the Court of Arbitration (in the meantime renamed the "Belgian Constitutional Court") ruled the BHV district to be unconstitutional, due to the unequal voting rights. It was abolished as part of the 2012 sixth Belgian state reform.

See also

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