Saturday, February 5, 2011

Belgian of the week: Elio Di Rupo

Elio Di Rupo. (Source)

After giving you Bart De Wever, it's time to introduce you to the other major candidate for prime minister of Belgium, Elio Di Rupo.

While De Wever is a rotund Flemish conservatist with a penchant for horse steak, Di Rupo (b. 1951) from Hainaut is a rather scrawny social democrat who is never seen without a big red bow tie. He is a chemist by profession, and I'll be damned if he doesn't look like one, too.

His political career began in 1982. Between 2000 and 2005 he was the mayor of Mons, the capital of Hainaut. He was Minister-President of the Walloon region in 1999-2000 and again in 2005-2007. Since 1999, he has been chairman of Belgium's francophone Socialist Party.

Will this man be Belgium's next prime minister? (Source)

After the general election of last summer, Di Rupo's party emerged as the largest of the francophone parties, with a clear victory in the Walloon electoral districts. Bart De Wever's N-VA achieved much the same result in Flanders, with just one more seat overall than the Socialist Party. Result: the most painful cabinet negotiations in history. Belgium is about to break the world record for the longest period without a government.

Bart De Wever would like to see a Belgium divided, with Flanders released from the grip of its less desirable neighbour in the south (Wallonia). Di Rupo, on the other hand, wants to stick together.

How on earth are these people going to form a working government? If they do, it will be a great victory to everyone. If they don't... Well, it'll be just another day in Belgium.

4 comments:

  1. I think they will come to a conclusion in the end and end up sticking together. But it might take a long, long time before they get tired of negotiating ;)

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  2. Yeah, I think (some) Belgians love arguing even more than I do!

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  3. If I were still in Belgium, I'd vote for Di Rupo if I were restricted to the main candidates (my primary choice would be the PvdA, which has some unofficial ties to the Spanish party I'm member of). Bart De Wever is only after the destruction of Belgium and it's about time the NVA is left out of the government formation. Let Di Rupo take on the role of prime minister, it's about time the right-wing shifting comes to an end, and it's about time (after over 30 years) a French-speaker becomes prime minister again.

    You forgot two (not that important) facts in your post:
    1) he is also the mayor of Mons and is one of the most fanatic fans of the local football club RAEC Mons
    2) he is homosexual. Nothing special if it weren't that, should he be prime minister, Belgium would be the first EU nation with a gay prime minister. I think that would be something to be proud of and a strong sign that we're a progressive nation rather than a conservative one. Iceland has a gay prime minister I believe, but they're not (yet) in the EU, so Di Rupo would be a pioneer if he indeed becomes prime minister.

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  4. @Gerrit: Thanks for the input. I wasn't sure whether to include some things, but you make a good point. I will re-write the post with some extra information as soon as I have time.

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