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woensdag 14 november 2007

End of Belgium?

For the last 150+ days our national representatives have been bickering about the direction our country should take. We still don't have a government. The views of the Flemish politicians are almost the direct opposite of the Walloon politicians.

The two main issues are the division of the constituency Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV) and the further federalization of the state. The problem with BHV is different according to the language of the person explaining it. For the Flemish it's about the arrogant intrusion of the French language into Flemish territory. For the Walloons it's about the arrogance of the Flemish wanting to impose a strict language barrier. In short, it's about bullshit (which is the essence of bad politics).

The federalization of the state is another matter. The idea behind it is "what we do ourselves we can do better". At first the Walloons wanted separate communities in order to organize their (then stronger) economy. Now that the tables have turned economically, the Flemish want to divert more national responsibilities to the regional level, e.g. unemployment.

By federalizing more and more, our country is, de facto, heading towards a separation. And that scares the weaker (in money and in numbers) part of the country. Recently the division of BHV was proclaimed by the federal parliament. The Flemish used their numerical majority to force the matter. Although the Walloon politicians denounced the proceedings as a conflict of interest, thus locking it down in a legal process that could last years, they got freaked. It's the first time in Belgian history that the Flemish have used their numerical superiority. A dangerous precedent.

In Flanders there is a lot of talk about the historical and ideological suppression by the Walloons. What I've read in the comments pages on the political crisis in the Walloon magazine Le Vif and the newspaper Le Soir is that they say roughly the same things about us. This made me think about the episode The Party of the sitcom Joey, where his scientist nephew Michael pretends that his neighbour is his girlfriend in an attempt to match his rival Seth, who also pretends to have a girlfriend. At the end of the episode, the moral turns out to be that they both think the other one always "wins" (by getting a new publication, a prestigious scholarship, etc.). This is exactly what's happening in Belgium. Each party thinks the other one always wins. Most of the time a wrong historical perspective is used. Because the Walloons suppressed us 50 years ago, we need to hate them. The Flemish on the other hand "always" get the better deal when there is power to be assigned. My dear Walloons, stop acting like a bitch and take responsibilty for your economic and political situation (e.g. PS, Charleroi). My dear Flemish compatriots, get off your high horse and stop invoking the past. If the Walloons living now are still to be held responsible for what their ancestors did, than all living Germans are still nazis and the Australians are still European criminals. As I said before, I'm fed up with this nonsense, and so is about 70% of the nation according to a recent poll.

The Dutch and the French wouldn't mind if we split up, it seems. Polls showed that about half the Dutch would welcome Flanders into the country, and half of the French wouldn't mind an annexation of Wallonia. Flanders has the extreme-right Vlaams Belang party and the NV-A who state sans gène that they want Flemish independence. The other side of the "border" has FDF and Rassemblement Wallonie-France with the same aim. There are even people calling for a revolution.

Will Belgium cease to exist? Not immediately. As long as initiatives like Save Solidarity, the Petition, Beglium (hehe), a march for solidarity (November 18th), and Belgium Hugs (November 21 - Louvain students' call to come and hug a Walloon/Fleming) can motivate enough people, we're good. Up until now I haven't met anyone willing to take up arms and cause an actual revolution. If this keeps up too long though, we will start to feel the economical repercussions of an instable regime. The only reason we haven't felt them yet, is the fact that we're a part of the eurozone. The old national currency would have devaluated dramatically by now. Plus, we're making an ass of ourselves internationally. Belgium, centre of the European institutions, advocate of the EU, can't keep its shit together.

In conclusion I would just like to say that it's time we stop throwing mud at each other. Especially those who live in a unilingual part of the country. Those who work with Belgians speaking a different language, in general, don't make a big deal out of it. Béatrice Delvaux from Le Soir has put it like this: "We need to open up a new dialogue between all [Belgium's] political parties, revisit and re-invent a form of Belgian federalism that could foster growth and progress in both of the language communities, and handle our differences much more smoothly. For francophones, this would involve taking our destiny in our own hands but it also means developing a much greater spirit of compromise. It also means the Flemings must somehow deal with the extremists and nationalists in their midst. The last word belongs not to myself but to Rik Torfs, a prominent Fleming: 'Don't dig your own graves, you the victors of the elections... Just stop and think what would happen if Flanders at last gained independence. If we Flemish were in effect to shoot our Walloon scapegoat, we and we alone would then become responsible for all our failures.'"

Update: March for Solidarity - 35,000 demonstrate for Belgian unity
Update 2: November 11 there was another event promoting unity called Be-Day for Peace.

1 opmerking:

Goofball zei

Nice post, I totally agree. I found it via "" today which links to your post.