Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/766

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410 BELGIUM

senators must be at least forty years of age, and those elected directly must pay not less than 1,200 francs in direct taxes, or own immovable property in Belgium yielding an income of 12,000 francs. In provinces, however, where the number eligible for the Senate would be less than one in 5,000 of population, the list is extended to this proportion by admission of the most highly taxed. Sons of the King, or failing these, Belgian princes of the reigning branch of the Boyal Family are by right Senators at the age of eighteen, but have no voice in the deliberations till the age of twenty-five years.

The members of the Chamber of Bepresentatives are elected directly. Their number is proportioned to the population, and cannot exceed one for every 40,000 inhabitants. They sit for four years, one half retiring every two years, except that after a dissolution a general election takes place. Every citizen over twenty-five years of age, domiciled for not less than one year in the same commune, and not legally disqualified, has a vote. Every citizen over thirty-five years of age, married or widower, with legi- timate issue, and paying at least 5 francs a year in house tax, has a supplementary vote, as has also every citizen over twenty-five years of age owning immovable property to the value of 2,000 francs, or having a corresponding income from such property, or who for two years has derived at least 100 francs a year from Belgian funds either directly or through the Savings Bank. Two supplementary votes are given to citizens over twenty-five years of age who have received a diploma or certificate of higher instruction, or who fill or have filled ofiices or engaged in private professional practice, implying at least average higher instruction. No person has more than 3 votes ; failure to vote is a misdemeanour, punish- able by law. There were in 1896-97 1,401,951 electors possessing, in all, 2,141,041 votes. Deputies must be not less than twenty-five years of age, and resident in Belgium. Each deputy has an annual indemnity of 4,000 francs (160/,), and a free pass over Government railways between his home and the place of Session.

The Senate and Chamber meet annually in the month of November, and must sit for at least forty days ; but the King has the power of convoking them on extraordinary occasions, and of dissolving them either simultaneously or separately. In the latter case a new election must take place within forty days, and a meeting of the Chambers within two months. An adjournment cannot be made for a period exceeding one month without the con- sent of the Chambers. Money bills and bills relating to the contin- gent for the army originate in the Chamber of Representatives.