Tag Archives: politics

Brazil up & down

While visiting family and friends back home, many asked me about the protests in Brazil: if they happened in Maceio too, what I thought would come out of them and, obviously, why they so suddenly happened.

During the protests, I  followed my Brazilian friends on FB, posting links, videos, comments and much more. In the end, I’m afraid that the protests won’t change much in the short-term. If only Brazilian politicians learn that their actions will be watched more closely and that the most flagrant abuses of power are more likely to be unveiled, this would already be a lot.

What I found interesting about the protests is, that it wasn’t the poorest of the poorest that took the streets but the young, well educated middle class. Only that middle class has a very far stretched definition in Brazil. The middle class starts with an income as low as 240$ monthly income and reaches up to 1950$ monthly income. (Source)

While people in this middle class are not the absolute poor, many are only a paycheck away from poverty. Especially if you have an apartment to pay, plus the school, plus the health insurance, maybe even a car… In other words, as much as incomes have risen, costs have been fast in catching up too.

And people are tired of their politicians earning indecent monthly allowances and putting money into stadiums and other prestigious projects while the health service and the public education – both of which are free but certainly not used by senators and MPs – have been suffering a decline over the years. Up to an extent whether you almost have to sent your kids to private school and have to have a health insurance; both of which is pricy.

Over the years, Brazil has managed to lift a lot of people out of absolute poverty. These people have understood that what matters most to succeed in life is education and that’s what they get their children; only for these children now to take the streets. As the development continues, it seems there will be more protests to come until Brazilian politicians (re-)discover and respect decency.


No world record, yet

Indeed, Belgium is not world record holder  in taking the longest time to form a government as wrongly published in this blog and various other newspapers before. At this moment in time (Belgium: 292 days), Cambodia still keeps the record with 353 days (2003-2004). You need to acknowledge however the efforts made by Belgian politicians to win at least this record for their country.

Bonne chance.

Motivators for change

I have been thinking about this fritten revolution called for in Belgium at the celebration of the 249th day waiting for a government. Besides fries, there is obviously one other important Belgian symbol: Beer.

Even as a German, I have no problem admitting that Belgium beer is very good, especially the abbaye ones. And not only this. It even seems that beer initiated most inventions in human kind:

Beer – the origin of agriculture, the wheel, maths & writing. Who would have thought? But coming back to the real issue: Why not to make beer the national symbol, change the name of the country to Beergium and elect a beer king/queen every four years? Once you are drunk enough, language barriers won’t matter. At least this much is for sure.

Date for the diary

As of today, Belgium holds officially the world record of the country waiting the longest for government: 249 days.

Without nation-wide TV, newspapers or political parties, it is all but too easy for Flamish and Wallonian politicians to serve only the interests of those whose language they speak. ‘Belgium’ as such is at best a second priority of minor importance. But still, resistance is growing and it choose the one symbol that unites the country: Fries.

Om de hoop te voeden…

En nou heb ik er genoeg van!

Absolutely brilliant video about the absurdity of the current negotiations to form a Belgian government: http://universalsubtitles.org/en/videos/mQMJiwWDtPAG/info/

Dutch is a funny language en ik houd van het.

The baby is there just on time

Indeed, Iraq has finally a government. Last elections were in March and the delivery is sharp after nine month

What are the bets that the Belgian baby will be delivered late? There is still time though, elections were only in June.

A nastier person than I am might even start thinking loud about how ugly this baby is going to be and how long it will live. But as I’m not such a person…

Yes, it can

Whenever you are tempted to say that things cannot possibly be this complicated* in Belgium, then unfortunately the answer is:

* General elections were on 13 June.

Where’s the remedy?

Despite – or maybe thanks to – Belgium having the presidency of the European Union, nobody noticed that it still doesn’t have a government. Elections were only in June so no need to hurry.

What’s fascinating is that this disease seems to be spreading: The Netherlands are almost since 3 months without a government and Australia an unprecedented fortnight! If politicians aren’t more careful soon, people will come to realise that they can do without a lot of the circus

There is hope

And here we go again, elections in Belgium. Last weekend, I discussed with a French speaking politician being on the list of the Flemish socialists party. We’ve been debating why so many expats don’t care about Belgian politics – no right to vote – and how to change this – give it to them. We came to the conclusion that foreigners should be allowed to vote in the regional elections after living 5 years in the country. Though she explained me that especially the parties from Wallonia would disagree as a lot of their representatives don’t speak sufficient English while she was – évidemment – tri-lingual.

Belgium, in the end, might be a bit strange but still…

EU Summit in a barn

That’s how I felt this BBC line read: “EU leaders to meet in old library”. OK, it is a 100 years old but so what? Most European parliament buildings are way older and not all of them are this beautifully surrounded by a park.

It’s not often that I defend Brussels’ architecture but the Bibliothèque Solvay is kind of special. First, it never was a bibliothèque (library), second, it feels and looks like Art Nouveau even though it isn’t and third, one of the world’s most famous physics conferences took place exactly here.

And if you still don’t believe me that it is not only a very symbolic but also worthwhile venue for a conference, then please check the virtual visit.

I wish the BBC could at least mention these details instead of having Van Rompuy looking like a weirdo hosting a EU summit in a barn. C’est quand même pas si difficile, non?