Belgium or understanding the country I live in

It seems that Belgium, my current host country, is facing a major political crises threatening even it’s very existence. So far, I was not very much interested in what is going on here – to be honest not at all. But, in the last weeks, I investigated a bit through asking all the Belgian friends I have and some more people I know about what is going on in this country.

Fact is that Belgium had it’s parliamentary elections in June (or so) and since then… nothing. No government is formed yet since the Flemish (Dutch speakers) and the Wallonien (French speakers) cannot agree. The Flemish want more independence which the Walloniens do not to give them as they are fearing economic disadvantages. Sort of…

The situation is now that some people extremists claim the splitting of the country into the rich Flanders and the poor Wallonia. The problem is that the Flemish support with their taxes the economical weaker Wallonia and that these both parts of the country and their respective populations do not really like each other. (Please note: I’m generalizing!) For instance, the Flemish have to learn French for several years at school while the Walloniens fail quite often in an amazing way to do learn Dutch. Flemish often do not like to speak French and it is not even worth asking the other way round. (Though in that part, I support the Flemish since the Walloniens have this “French” attitude towards language but I shall go deeper into this topic another time). This linguistic division is actually cutting much deeper going over into cultural, political and social issues far beyond the point I could describe them here.

Now, if you are still reading, you may ask yourself what is going to happen to Brussels if the split should ever occur. Not to speak about the small German minority in the Eastern part of the country. Well, Brussels was originally half-half but with the European institutions French gained a lot of importance and English is rapidly advancing as well. Voices are raising to make it a kind of European protectorate or to declare it straight to the capital of the European Union. A kind of Washington DC à l’européenne.

None of the people I spoke to really think that a split will happen, at least not now. But others have also their say. It would be more than interesting to know what Berlin, Paris and London think about the whole story and especially about Brussels becoming the capital of the EU. I cannot really imagine that they like the whole idea. Obviously, there are some other fears raised as well, particularly in Spain where a Belgian split would give more than just a wrong idea to the Basques.

Solution? None so far except that it is not the first time that  Belgium is without a government. The former prime minister, Verhofstadt, just goes on governing without being able to change the constitution or to call for new elections. That would make sense but not foreseen in the constitution. In German I would say that this country is in a deep Zwickmühle. They cannot move forward or backward – they are stuck in a loosing position. If ever they manage to get out of it – I’ll let you know.

Goeden dag, la puce

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5 responses to “Belgium or understanding the country I live in

  1. I am actually most interested in what would happen to Eupen-Malmedy. (Not for chauvinistic reasons, I just have this fascination with oddities.) Would they join Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and Liechtenstein in the European micro-state league? Would they become the 17th German state, modelled on the Saarland precedent? Or would they simply be absorbed by either North Rhine Westphalia or Rhineland-Palatinate? Or would they stick with one of the other two formerly Belgian states?

  2. Well, this is an exellent question making part of the many unanswered questions a Belgian split would cause. I think that most European governements try to not think (aloud) about it. Personally, I have no idea what is going to happen to Eupen – everything is possible.
    Anyway, there are now some pro-Belgian movements evolving trying to show that there are more voices than just the extremist ones.

    Fascination with oddities – sounds a bid weird, nice but weird 🙂

  3. Very nice article though a bit polemic. Some people seriously worry about what is going to happen since they are not Flemish or Wallonian but Belgians. They wouldn’t know where to go to.
    And, the article leaves some critical questions unanswered. When should a State defend the coherence of it’s territory, inside and outside?
    The problem with Belgium is that it goes beyond it, having implications on international level… What do you think would the Basques think/do? Qué dices?

  4. Pingback: Brussels to sell, or: is there a way out of the Belgian crises? « La puce, die Welt and everything else

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