Van Zeeland

Van Zeeland

[vahn zey-lahnt]
Van Zeeland, Paul, 1893-1973, Belgian political leader. He was a professor of law and later director of the institute of economic science at the Univ. of Louvain and vice governor of the national bank of Belgium. In 1935 he was made premier of a government of national unity. Given decree powers, he weathered the Belgian economic crisis by stringent measures that included devaluation of the currency. In 1936, he instituted reform and social legislation and suppressed the turbulent Rexists (the Belgian fascists) after proclaiming martial law. In his administration Belgium denounced (1936) its military alliance with France, reverting to its policy of neutrality, and received (1937) a German guarantee of its inviolability. In 1937, accused by the Rexists of political corruption, Van Zeeland was completely exonerated. Nevertheless, he resigned his post. He remained an unofficial adviser and in 1938 vainly urged a conference of the great powers to restore international economic cooperation. In 1939 he became president of the committee on refugees, established at London, and throughout World War II he continued to work for international economic cooperation. Van Zeeland was made (1944) high commissioner for the repatriation of displaced Belgians. A leader of the Catholic party, he later served as foreign minister in several cabinets and also as a financial adviser to the Belgian government and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's council of ministers.
Paul Guillaume van Zeeland (November 11, 1893September 22, 1973) was a Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician and statesman.

He was born in Soignies.

Van Zeeland was a professor of law and later director of the Institute of Economic Science at the Universite Catholique de Louvain (Leuven), and vice-governor of the National Bank of Belgium.

In March 1935 he became Prime Minister of a government of national unity (a coalition comprising the three major parties: Catholics, Liberals and Socialists). Given decree powers, he was able to abate the economic crisis the country was going through, by devaluing the currency and resorting to expansive bugdetary policies.

Van Zeeland's government resigned in the spring of 1936 due to the agitation of REX (a Belgian fascist party), but was able to start a new term (June 1936-November 1937). After proclaiming martial law, the government was able to suppress the Rexists. The second Van Zeeland government carried through a progressive social reform programme, introducing the 40-hour working week and measures against unemployment, which helped to ease the political tensions. Also during his second term, Belgium gave up its military alliance with France and reverted to its traditional "neutrality" policy, now dubbed "policy of independence".

In 1939, Van Zeeland became president of the Committee on Refugees, established in London, and in 1944 he was made High Commissioner for the repatriation of displaced Belgians. After the war he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in several Catholic governments between 1949 and 1954, and as economic advisor to the Belgian government and to the council of ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In 1946, he was one of the founders of the European League for Economic Cooperation.

Preceded by :
Charles de Broqueville
Prime Minister of Belgium Succeeded by
Paul-Emile Janson

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