1950 Belgian monarchy referendum

A referendum on allowing Leopold III's return to Belgium, and restoration of his powers and duties as monarch was held in Belgium on 12 March 1950. The proposal was approved by 57.68% of voters.[1]


King Leopold went into exile in June 1944, when Heinrich Himmler ordered him to leave Belgium. Leopold was held by the Nazis in Strobl, Austria until early May 1945, when he was freed by members of the United States 106th Cavalry Group. Because of the political troubles surrounding his war time behaviour King Leopold remained in exile in Switzerland until 1950, his brother Prince Charles, Count of Flanders having been installed as Regent after the Liberation in 1944.

The Catholics, who generally supported the King's return, won a majority in the Belgian Senate during the general election of 26 June 1949. The Catholics formed a government with the Liberals. The date of the referendum (Consultation populaire) the King wanted was set by this government for 12 March 1950.

Socialist Leader Paul-Henri Spaak opposed holding a referendum. He foresaw that the vote for Leopold might fall between 55% and 65%, giving no decisive mandate for the king's return, and that the King would carry Flanders and lose Wallonia. In that case, said Spaak, "the government would not only have on its hands the King's abdication or return, it would also have to appease the anger, acerbity and rancor of Flanders or Wallonia."[2]


The percentage of valid votes in favour of the returning of Leopold III in every electoral arrondissement. Dark green areas are strongly in favour, light green areas in favour, orange areas narrowly against, and red areas against.
Belgian monarchy consultation 1950 results by province
Results by region.

The question voters were asked was:

Dutch: "Zijt U de mening toegedaan dat Koning Leopold III de uitoefening van zijn grondwettelijke machten zou hernemen?"
French: "Êtes-vous d'avis que le Roi Leopold III reprenne l'exercice de ses pouvoirs constitutionnels ?"
Translation: "Are you of the opinion that King Leopold III should resume the exercise of his constitutional powers?"

A majority voted in favour of Leopold's return. In Flanders, 72% voted in favour. In Wallonia, 58% voted against. In Brussels, 52% voted against.[3]

ChoiceVotes %
Invalid/blank votes151,477
Registered voters/turnout5,635,45292.92
Source: Direct Democracy

By arrondissement

AntwerpenAntwerp 484,93612,236297,86363.0174,83737.0
MechelenAntwerp 156,0993,905106,45069.945,74430.1
TurnhoutAntwerp 134,6843,678110,57684.420,43015.6
BrusselsBrabant 832,08726,773387,91448.2417,40051.8
LeuvenBrabant 197,5407,530125,94466.364,06633.7
NivellesBrabant 119,6863,09743,77737.572,81262.5
BruggeWest Flanders 119,5733,67783,62372.232,27327.8
Veurne-Diksmuide-OostendeWest Flanders 118,2654,61582,65272.730,99827.3
Roeselare-TieltWest Flanders 116,9453,37296,19684.717,37715.3
KortrijkWest Flanders 167,7725,163114,19870.248,41129.8
YpresWest Flanders 74,1013,01154,10976.116,98123.9
Gent-EekloEast Flanders 328,2989,792224,87470.693,63229.4
Sint-NiklaasEast Flanders 111,0481,83384,95577.824,26022.2
DendermondeEast Flanders 97,7562,15072,22375.523,38324.5
AalstEast Flanders 145,9942,924100,13070.042,94030.0
OudenaardeEast Flanders 73,5002,37147,60766.923,52233.1
MonsHainaut 162,2504,46749,24331.2108,54068.8
SoigniesHainaut 103,9522,56534,87534.466,51265.6
CharleroiHainaut 268,3757,20986,00332.9175,16367.1
ThuinHainaut 82,5402,29434,52943.045,71757.0
Tournai-AthHainaut 147,9924,05662,66143.581,27556.5
LiègeLiège 353,59810,095119,16134.7224,34265.3
Huy-WaremmeLiège 109,2863,13244,44541.961,70958.1
VerviersLiège 141,2534,99881,23859.655,01740.4
HasseltLimburg 109,4723,51387,24182.318,71817.7
Tongeren-MaaseikLimburg 124,3333,616101,78384.318,93415.7
Arlon-Marche-BastogneLuxembourg 72,5262,07846,29665.724,15234.3
Neufchâteau-VirtonLuxembourg 59,2231,59537,44365.020,18535.0
NamurNamur 135,6003,49564,11248.567,99351.5
Dinant-PhilippevilleNamur 88,0562,23751,26159.734,55840.3
Flanders (four Flemish provinces plus Leuven)[4] 2,560,31673,3861,790,42471.0696,50628.0
Wallonia (four Walloon provinces plus Nivelles)[5] 1,844,33751,318755,04442.11,037,97557.9
Total 5,236,740151,4772,933,38257.72,151,88142.3
Source: Theunissen,[6] Senate[7]
Koningskwestie kaart met percentage voor-stemmen

*The majority in the arrondissement of Verviers voted in favour of the King's return. **The arrondissement of Namur voted against the return.



  1. Belgium, 12 March 1950: Return of King Leopold III Direct Democracy (in German)
  2. "Belgium up in the air", Time, Monday, 20 March 1950
  3. Maps of the referendum's results Institut Destrée et Université de Liège Archived February 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. Almost corresponding to the present-day five Flemish provinces making up the Flemish Region, except for Halle-Vilvoorde which was then part of the arrondissement of Brussels
  5. Corresponding to the present-day five Walloon provinces making up the Walloon Region
  6. Paul Theunissen, 1950, Ontknoping van de koningskwestie, De Nederlandsche boekhandel, Anvers, Amsterdam, 1984, pp. 16-17. ISBN 90-289-0892-7 and La Revue Nouvelle, 15 avril 1950, pp. 379-385.
  7. Communication of the Minister of the Interior on the referendum, Senate, 13 March 1950