Jean-Luc Dehaene (7 August 1940 – 15 May 2014) was a Belgian politician who served as Prime Minister of Belgium from 1992 until 1999. During his political career, he was nicknamed “The Plumber” and “The Minesweeper” for his ability to negotiate political deadlocks. A member of the Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) party and its antecedents,Dehaene gained his first ministerial appointment in 1981. Dehaene’s first government (1992–1995) included both Christian and Social Democrats and presided over the creation of a new constitution, effectively transforming Belgium into a federal state. His second government (1995–1999) coincided with a number of crises in Belgium including the Dutroux scandal. The Dioxin Affair, occurring shortly before the 1999 election, led to a swing against the major parties and Dehaene’s government fell. Following his final term as Prime Minister he was active in both Belgian and European politics. He was also on UEFA’s financial fair play regulatory body and managed Dexia Bank during the financial crisis. Dehaene holds the distinction of being the last prime minister of King Baudouin’s reign.
Between 2000 and 2007, he sat as Burgemeester (mayor) of Vilvoorde. At the request of his party, the CD&V, he was once again put up as a candidate during the 2003 elections, but this was clearly not with the intention of becoming Prime Minister as he was put as last person on the party list.
On 15 May 2014, Dehaene died after a fall while holidaying in Quimper in France. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier the same year and was not seeking reelection as a MEP in the 2014 elections for health reasons.He was 73 years old.
In the aftermath of his death, he received tributes from the incumbent Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo who described him as an “exceptional statesman”. Tributes were also made by Guy Verhofstadt, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
His body lay in state in Vilvoorde’s town hall and the retired King Albert II and the Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters both visited Vilvoorde to pay their respects