Stanley's blog

Le pays des Belges

EU politics, I find easier to understand than Belgian politics, which is one reason why this is my first post on this subject. However, the ongoing failure of the inter-communal negotiations, when the country has to cope with serious economic problems, prompts at least a brief reflection .

Today’s impasse is in many ways the result of successive constitutional reforms and the absence of national political parties.

Above all, however, I fear that the root of the problem is that few Flemish and Francophones have any loyalty or affection for their country. Without the objective being to seek a common solution to a common problem, negotiations are a ‘zero sum game’ and not a ‘win-win’.

But essentially, the crisis is between groups of politicians (of whom there are too many), fighting for power, influence and money. Where else can one imagine a country, in such crisis, but with virtually no public demonstrations? However, there has always been strains between the two communities and these strains risk beng exacerbated through the irresponsible behaviour of the politicians.

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  1. Dear Stanley, this analysis seems globally right. Nonetheless, I doubt that “today’s impasse is in many ways the result of successive constitutional reforms and the absence of national political parties”. These two elements were brought by the slow drifting of the two communities. They are not causes themselves, by rather consequences.

    An interesting issue for you could be how the European Union will have to react is the nationalistic drift goes on (which seems quite likely).

  2. Dear Stanley,
    I now reside in my fourth (successive) Flemish commune (the one with the airport in it) and note the huge gap between the populace (multilingual and welcoming) and the lack-lustre unilingual politicians and public servants, reinforced in their habits by sycophantic media reporting.

    Probably if parlementarians had to work a bit harder before being able to accede to a seat in some parliament inside the Belgian borders, or holding public office, they might approach their jobs with greater maturity. Industry is not served by all this political belly-button polishing.

    What the country really needs is a Great Leader who, popular or unpopular, could happily sideline the worst aspects of federal infighting in order to create a better image for Belgium as a whole. At the moment, that person is King Albert – hampered by the constitution. One mourns the absence of a new Mertens-Dehaene combination.

    The Brussels-Wallonia partnership does seem to be working, though. I don’t give up, although I do feel like thumping BBC reporters sometimes when they go yet again to the wrong party in Flanders to obtain their sound bites.

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