Thursday, September 15, 2011

A glint of government

The unthinkable has happened: after a record-breaking period of government negotiations, fries revolutions and general despair, Belgian politicians have actually agreed on something.

Since May 16th, Elio Di Rupo, leader of the francophone Socialist Party, has had the role of formateur, the person who leads the formation of a coalition government. With election results the way they were, it has not been an easy job.

Now, however, a meeting between the eight largest parties (excluding Bart De Wever's N-VA) has led to an agreement on a major issue.

BBC has the story:
The mediator trying to form a government in Belgium has announced a breakthrough after tense negotiations. 
Politician Elio Di Rupo said the eight parties in the talks had agreed on moves to resolve key sticking points.
They included the division of power between French- and Dutch-speaking communities, he said. 
The country has been without an elected government for 15 months. Disagreement centres on electoral boundaries in the linguistically divided Brussels region. 
"The eight parties have together succeeded in overcoming the obstacles which have created difficulties these last few days," Mr Di Rupo said in a statement.

The "electoral boundaries" mentioned refer specifically to the BHV issue, which I have mentioned before. It is now certain that the electoral district Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde will be divided, ending its unconstitutional existence.

Notably, Bart De Wever's Flemish nationalist party, N-VA, is excluded from the current negotiations and did not take part in last night's triumph.

What does all this mean to the future of the government negotiations? It's certainly a step in the right direction when the parties can actually agree on something, especially on such a difficult issue as BHV. Hope, however faint, lingers on.


  1. Yeah, it was not an easy job... too bad for my grandma, though! :-/

  2. I often am asked to explain Belgian politics. Usually though the asking person is already too dazzled and confused when trying to explain why a country this small has 7 governments... That a regional issue as BHV (too ridiculous to even try to explain to a foreigner) can block the formation of a whole nation's government, and gets priority over a lot more important issues that affect the whole country, is beyond understanding. The whole idea of a linguistic border and people not able to speak a language that is official in their own country but not their own area, is quite insane as well when comparing to other multilingual countries. Anyways, finally they're putting these issues aside so that work on the really important things can begin, such as the budget, creating extra jobs, ... things that affect the whole country and not just a handful of communities surrounding the capital. I'm obviously very pleased too to see a socialist is very likely to be our new prime minister :) I got all faith in Elio that he'll do a good job. As for Bart De Wever: goodbye and hopefully never ever see you again anywhere near the government buildings! Now let's finalise this formation and let Elio and his team pick up where Yves Leterme left.

    PS: Belgium will be the first EU nation with an openly gay prime minister, a nice one and a glimpse of tolerance in a country where minorities still too often are the scapegoat. I know Iceland had a lesbian prime minister before, hence I say a novelty for the EU and not for the entire Europe...

  3. Just to make one thing clear: I don't have anything against those who vote for the N-VA, and I don't wish anything bad upon the N-VA party members neither (other than electoral loss, I don't wish them anything bad). Heck, my own parents both vote N-VA! :) But then I am a communist, so right-wing is not my cup of tea, and especially the more far right parties (without wanting to compare N-VA to Vlaams Belang) are just very far from my ideology. I'd vote PvdA and affiliate to them if I were still in Belgium. But I have nothing personal against the N-VA people (well, De Wever is a borderline case ;)) and certainly not against those who vote for them.