Jean-Luc Dehaene (born 7 August 1940) is a Belgian politician and former Prime Minister. He was born in Montpellier, France, when his parents were fleeing German troops.
He got into politics through the Algemeen Christelijk Werknemersverbond (ACW), a trade union which was closely linked to the Christelijke Volkspartij (CVP).
In 1981, he became Minister of Social Affairs and Institutional Reform, until 1988, when he became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications and Institutional Reform.
In 1992, after both Guy Verhofstadt and Melchior Wathelet had failed, he managed to form a governing coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. This became one of Belgium's most important governments, because it successfully transformed Belgium into a federal state.
In March 1993, Dehaene offered the King the resignation of his government, because of diverging views on how to handle the public finances. However, within a week the differences were put aside. After the death of King Baudouin I, his government exercised the royal function until Prince Albert was sworn in as King Albert II of the Belgians nine days later.
Dehaene I (1992-1995)
In 1994, he ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Belgian troops from Rwanda, thus lifting the last barrier to the genocide of Tutsis. During questions from the Belgian parliamentary commission into this decision he repeatedly acknowledged no regrets about the decision. He was the leading candidate to replace Jacques Delors as President of the European Commission but at the Summit in Corfu, John Major vetoed the appointment whereas all 11 other countries leaders supported Dehaene following much arm-twisting of other dissenters in what was widely seen as a Franco-German stitch-up. The Luxembourgish PM Santer was appointed as a compromise candidate instead.
Dehaene II (1995-1999)
His second government was also composed of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. Despite the fact that the government was flooded with crises - notably the Dutroux scandal - it managed to serve the entire legislature. During this period, for his work toward a unified Europe, Dehaene received the Vision for Europe Award in 1996. Some weeks before the 1999 elections a food scandal erupted, and both governing parties lost much of their support.
After the elections, Guy Verhofstadt formed the first Belgian government without the Christian Democrats since 1958. Dehaene remained senator until 2001, when he became mayor of Vilvoorde, a city near Brussels. To the surprise of many, he was nominated by Verhofstadt to become Vice Chairman of the Convention on the Future of Europe. In order to offer support to his party, the CD&V, he was once again 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. In June 2004, Jean-Luc Dehaene was elected to the European Parliament. In 2003, he was awarded the Vlerick Award.
After the Belgian elections of 2007, Dehaene was appointed as mediator in the process to form a new government.
In October 2008 he became CEO of Dexia Bank, a Belgian-French bank. With the bank in problems due to the financial crisis, he was asked to lead the company trough the difficult period.