Constitutional Crisis in Belgium

The Wallonian minority suspended the 150-day old talks to form a new coalition government after a wedge issue was forced through by the Flemish majority. The issue is repartition of the voting areas around Brussels and it’s the most touchy subject in the long running Flemish-Wallonian divide that could end by splitting the country in two.

Hard-right party spokesperson Gerolf Annemans had this to say:

“I’m delighted. We’ve worked for years to push this through,” said Gerolf Annemans of the separatist, far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). [editor: Vlaams Belang was previously known as Vlaams Blok]

More from Canada.com:

A day of high drama revived media speculation about a possible break-up of the 177-year-old nation, seat of the European Union’s main institutions, even though polls show most Belgians favor unity.

For French-speakers, who make up about 40 percent of the Belgian population, it marked the first time the Dutch-speaking majority had enforced its will, helped by extreme-right Flemish nationalist deputies.

“The talks are on hold,” Didier Reynders, acting finance minister and head of the French-speaking Liberals, told a news conference after a meeting of all francophone parties.

“The Belgian pact is based on compromise. In Belgium, you negotiate on the basis of protecting minorities. A majority of six million against four, that’s not Belgium any more.”

Would-be prime minister Yves Leterme, the Flemish Christian Democrat leader, earlier made a last-ditch attempt to keep talks to form a centre-right Christian Democrat-Liberal government on track.

This split runs back to the very beginning, and a minority in the Flemish North has always wanted this split from the French-speaking Wallonian South, and they’ve allied with different causes and philosophies through their history to achieve that end.

Their current electoral victories seem to have carried them to the position they need to make progress, and these victories were achieved through adoption of several popular Flemish causes, listed in the order of general import to the public:

  1. Independence and self determination
  2. Ending the 15% economic transfers to the poorer Wallonian South
  3. Anti-EU sentiment
  4. Cultural Xenophobia/Anti-immigration
  5. Anti-Islamofascism
  6. Anti-Turkish entry into the EU
  7. Anti-Drug stance
  8. Pro-family stance
  9. Tribal nationalism

This winning formula has some opportunistic stances that are shallow, the important ones are near the top. I could have the order of a couple of these reversed, but that’s the general feel I have from reading their campaign material, various blogs, news reports, and contrary reports on all of the above. I’ve hit their sites, and their opponent’s sites to gain contrasting views and tried to boil things down to essentials. The leadership of VB has questionable tactics, associations, and pasts that have been the subject of many blog posts the past two weeks, and I will not delve into that while reporting what is basically news.

The key question to ask is the future of Brussels – it is comprised of somewhere between 60-85% French speakers depending on who you ask. If the country is split, in which half would Brussels lie? Would they split it off into an EU district instead to serve as capital of the EU? Time will tell that tale.

The worrisome bullet 9 in VB’s collection of causes is highlighted by the Vlaams Belang link up above, and by other things I have seen on VB’s sites.

The drivers of the Flemish bus right now are VB’s leaders, and their confrontational approach to politics might serve Flanders well, or it could lead to further conflict in Europe; something nobody really needs at the moment with two real wars going on, oil prices rising, the crisis in Pakistan, and the holidays coming on.

6 Replies to “Constitutional Crisis in Belgium”

  1. Thanos,

    With all due respect, if you put the U.S. Democratic Party and Republican Party under a microscope, investigating every single leader and significant party member…you would find individuals with ties to Communism, Neo-Naziism, the KKK, Black Panthers, White Supremacy Groups, the Mafia, and gangs.

    Based on the far left tilt of 90% of European politics, the Republican Party of America would make VB look like a gathering of Pink Coders.

    I visit a ton of sites, both American and European, and I respect the ones I visit. And I’ve come to the conclusion that at this point in time, I’m going to put more trust in the Europeans who are elbow to elbow with the political parties, than I am in a few bloggers who noticed a questionable hunk of marble on somebody’s bookshelf.

    I’d say a close inspection of Senator Byrd’s attic and/or garage would reveal something even more distasteful, but for me to look at Byrd’s past and label the Democratic Party as a party of racist Klan members, is absurd.

  2. Everyone needs to decide for themselves, having done tons of research I know that VB is no ally of mine, nor are they allies of liberty.

  3. Fair enough.

    In my view, a neo nazi, a communist, a terrorist….none of them is welcome by my side in the Global War on Terror. I don’t want those kinds of allies.

    But at the same time, I don’t insult an entire continent of people. I don’t spend two months ignoring the millions of enemy combatants in this war while trying to expose 100-200 morons.

    Maybe the real war has changed, I don’t know. In my mind it hasn’t.

  4. I get it. This is like the Star Trek movie. Two weeks has become two months, a subset of leaders in a political movement in Europe has become an entire continent. So you are speaking in code like Captain Kirk or something right?
    If you are going to take the time to leave a comment, then be honest in it.

  5. Thanos,

    I owe you an apology.

    It was unfair of me to take out my frustration , with the rift going on at a dozen anti-jihad blogs (American and European) over what I have viewed as an unfair attack on core values of the European peoples, out here at Noblesse Oblige.

    For that I am sorry.

    I was disappointed to see this “subject” come up here but that’s neither my right nor place.

    You have created one of the best blogs for disseminating information on Pakistan. Your readers receive so much education and insights here. And in the dire times ahead in Pakistan, Noblesse Oblige is going to be more and more critical to so many.

    Your passions have always come through in your words and I trust that you will never lose that.

    I wish you all the best, Thanos. Take Care.

    :Holger Danske

    – ornery elephant

  6. Np friend, it’s very frustrating to all of us, but I would rather have this discussion now in blogs, than in papers next year just prior to the election.

    The left was already trying to associate our anti-immigration efforts to those of VB, something we cannot afford. That was in very early October, before any of this came up on Charle’s blog or Atlas’.

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