Walloon politicians have proven they will never be willing to be open to Flanders

On the 25th of May 2014 Belgium held federal elections together with European elections, having had the Belgians vote for three elections on the same day.

English: A graphical representation of the six...

English: A graphical representation of the six biggest Flemish political parties and their results for the House of Representatives (Kamer). From 1978 to 2010, in percentages for the complete ‘Kingdom’. Nederlands: Een grafische voorstelling van de 6 grootste Vlaamse partijen en hun behaalde resultaten voor de Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers. Van 1978 tot en met 2010, uitgedrukt in procenten voor ‘Het Rijk’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the debates we could see the ‘hated’  New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) had enough propositions in which several other political parties should be able to find them too.

At the Flemish side of the country with three regions and three communities, based on language (Dutch, French and German), Vlaams Belang and LDD suffered major losses; their votes went to N-VA, which increased its position as largest party. CD&V (the Christian Democrats and Flemish), Open Vld (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats) and Groen (Green: ecologists) gained slightly as well, while sp.a lost slightly.

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Wikipedia presentation of the Belgian federal election, 2014

Belgian federal election, 2014
Belgium


2010 ← 25 May 2014 → Next

All 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives
76 seats needed for a majority
First party Second party Third party
Bart De Wever Paul Magnette Charles Michel
Leader Bart De Wever Elio Di Rupo Charles Michel
Party N-VA PS MR
Leader since 2004 1999 2011
Leader’s seat Antwerp (province) Hainaut Walloon Brabant
Last election 27 seats, 17.4% 26 seats, 13.7% 18 seats, 9.3%
Seats won 33 23 20
Seat change Increase6 Decrease 3 Increase 2
Popular vote 1,366,414 787,165 650,290
Percentage 20.36% 11.67% 9.64%
Swing Increase 2.86 Decrease 2.03 Increase 0.36

Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Wouter Beke Gwendolyn Rutten Bruno Tobback
Leader Wouter Beke Gwendolyn Rutten Bruno Tobback
Party CD&V Open VLD sp.a
Leader since 2010 2012 2011
Leader’s seat Limburg Flemish Brabant Flemish Brabant
Last election 17 seats, 10.8% 13 seats, 8.6% 13 seats, 9.2%
Seats won 18 14 13
Seat change Increase 1 Increase 1 Steady
Popular vote 783,060 659,582 595,486
Percentage 10.85% 9.78% 8.83%
Swing Increase 0.76 Increase 1.14 Decrease 0.41

Federal Government before electionDi Rupo Government Elected Federal GovernmentTBD

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he Belgium national football team, prior to their World Cup qualifier against Serbia, on June 7, 2013. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

The Belgium national football team, prior to their World Cup qualifier against Serbia, on June 7, 2013. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

The Washington Post rightly remarked:

As in so many countries the WC is not only about football in Belgium, it is also very much about politics. But whereas football is an escape out of the dire realities of the economic crisis in nations like Greece, the national football team is, in many ways, the nation in Belgium. Although article 33 of the Belgian Constitution states “All powers emanate from the Nation,” the Belgian nation has always been a complicated construction. Belgium is a deeply divided country, with (simply speaking) a Dutch speaking Flemish majority in the north, a French speaking Walloon minority in the south, and the officially bilingual capital of Brussels, which has a large population of immigrants and Eurocrats who speak neither Dutch nor French as their first language.

Belgicists (pro-Belgians) have always looked to the Red Devils to boost the Belgian spirit of its compatriots. This is not without reason, as Belgians consistently rank among the least patriotic in (Western) Europe (see, for example, Eurobarometer). These Belgicists could find some solace in recent research that shows that good results of a national team in the 2000 UEFA European Championship (EC) boosted, at least temporarily, the national pride in that country. {Can soccer unite the Belgians?}

Bart De Wever (anno 2014), Mayor of Antwerp & Chairman of the New Flemish Alliance N-VA

Bart De Wever (anno 2014), Mayor of Antwerp & Chairman of the New Flemish Alliance N-VA

Informateur Bart De Wever, of the party which won the most votes and should come in power was warned by the other language groups he was not allowed to form a regional government first. He had to form a federal government first, because otherwise he would block the country. But who was first to form a regional government and to block the country. First the Germans presented their regional government and then the Walloon grouped themselves in such a way that it became very difficult for Bart De Wever to offer a federal government which would be able to co-inside with the French regional government.

English: Elio Di Rupo at a 2009 Socialist Inte...

Many Flemish people had put their hopes in the previous election on the Italian immigrant Elio Di Rupo to bring Belgium to unity. But he could not make it because he did not want to use a strong iron hand, like Margaret Thatcher used fro Great Britain. – Here he is seen at a 2009 Socialist International Presidium meeting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time the Flemish people should become convinced that it is impossible to govern the country Belgium together with the French speaking community. Parting prime minister Di Rupo continuously gave the French speaking citizens and the foreign press a wrong picture of the Flemish party N-VA. As prime-minister he pressed on to other parties not to work together with that  “separatist” party and gave an implicit warning to CDH, the French speaking Christian-democrats.

The French liberals MR where sceptical of CDH’s motives as they where hoping for a return of PS at the federal level. MR would rather be the only  French-speaking partner, but in that case Open VLD would be needed for a majority – an option that N-VA and CD&V refused. No wonder De Wever did not go together any-more with Guy Verhofstadt to come together in the Liberal fraction of the European parliament, having the Walloon liberals having put him in a corner.

When we look at the note of Bart De Wever, every party should have been able to form a coalition with them, so much water he had done in his wine.
The note made no mention of certain controversial N-VA proposals such as scrapping the annual index (which links wages and pay rises to the cost of living) or limiting unemployment benefits. Still, CDH president Benoît Lutgen with his party did not want to continue talks with N-VA.

“The wolf has not turned into a sheep overnight,”

Lutgen stated, not recognising he was the snake in the Belgian grass-plot.

The French speaking Christian-democrats have linked their fate in the Brussels and Wallonia regional governments to the socialist PS of parting prime minister Elio Di Rupo. It is believed that the Centre démocrate humaniste (CDH) would rather see PS in the federal government as well, an option N-VA refuses.

It became time that the Flemish party which had won the election started showing her teeth. Bart De Wever announced:

“This story has not ended yet. N-VA is the country’s biggest party. That comes with a big responsibility.”

De Wever also stated that he believed his project for a “social and economic recovery government” would get a large majority in parliament

“if its contents were put to the vote”.

The Christian democrats said they asked for guarantees on state reforms that were voted on in the previous term and stated also that

“the federal government should be at the service of the regional governments,”

which CDH’s Melchior Wathelet called “painful”.

At the previous elections the Flemish had already to face a madam non and got now a mr. non, bringing the centre-right federal coalition government of which former informateur Bart De Wever dreamed off the table. A coalition between N-VA, CD&V, MR and CDH was halted by CDH’s mistrust of N-VA. That it has linked its fate with PS in the regional governments weighed heavy on CDH’s decision.

With the centre right coalition off the table, three coalitions remain possible. However, each of these is marred by vetoes and mistrust, especially among the French speakers.

Peeters’ party also wants to avoid the scenario of the previous term, with N-VA part of the government of Flanders and in opposition at the federal level, as that only led to greater victory for the nationalists.

But what the Walloon seem to forget is that now after 18 years of working against any Flemish proposition, lots of Flemish people are getting fed up with this very expensive  uncontrollable non-working system called ‘Belgium’. It are the ‘non’-sayers of the Walloon side who push the Flemish people more and more in a corner where they shall start to snarl. For long enough those too passive Flemish may have growl a little bit, but now it gets time that they shall not only show their teeth and snarl, but also show their claws. Where are those lion which give a claw?

English: Communities of Belgium

Communities of Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Flemish have enough presents given to Wallonia and when it is still not happy with the 16 billion euros it gets from Flanders it would be better to say ‘good bye’ to it and leave every community to decide how they want to be on their own or connected with a country which may be called ‘one country’, be it for the French speaking “France”, for the German speaking “Germany” and for the Flemish speaking “Flanders”, but this way we can not continue. In case after the more than 18 years of patience, if it were not 1658 years*, they still not have seen it will be impossible, I wonder when they will have dry eyes and smiling faces again.

* The name Flanders appeared for the first time in 358, when the Migration Period took place in the Low Countries and the Franks got the Flanders Shire or pagus Flandrensis under their control, from the Romans. The area stretched around Bruges between Iron and Zwin and developed in the following centuries the important county of Flanders.
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It is getting high time that the Flemish become more aware of the meaning of the Guldensporenslag or the Battle of the Golden Spurs which was fought on July 11, 1302, (hence the Regional holiday July 11) near Kortrijk (Courtrai) in Flanders. The three coloured flag can be found on many houses now with the World Cup, but what about the climbing or rampant black lion on a gold field? Is it because not many have read about the story of the Guldensporenslag, the arms and its corresponding battlecry Vlaendr’n den leeuw (“Flanders, the Lion!”) which plays a crucial role in the forming of a Flemish consciousness? Time the Flemish take up again the book De Leeuw van Vlaanderen by Hendrik Conscience, that as a result, the arms of the county may live on again as arms of the Flemish Community.

********

Map of the county of Flanders in 1609 by Matthias Quad (cartographer) and Ian Bussemaker or Johannes Bussemacher / Johann Bussemacher (fl. c.1580 – 1613) (engraver and publisher, Cologne)

English: A map on the concentration of Belgian...

A map on the concentration of Belgians in the Netherlands and Dutchmen in Belgium per municipality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  • De Wever given more time (deredactie.be)

    Over the past two weeks, Mr De Wever has conducted talks with the various parties with the greatest discretion. His dream is the formation of a federal coalition of the centre-right, made up of the Flemish nationalists, the Flemish Christian democrats, the Francophone liberals and the Francophone Cristian democrats.

    However, relations between the Francophone Christian democrats and the Francophone liberals are icy after the Christian democrat’s decision to form a Walloon regional government with the socialists.

    The Francophone liberals are reported to even be considering joining a federal government as the only Francophone party. However, this would require the Flemish liberals to also join the coalition in order for it to have a majority.

    The Flemish liberals have already said that they would only be prepared to join a federal coalition if they were also allowed to join the Flemish government. In an interview in Tuesday edition of the daily ‘De Standaard’, the Francophone Christian democrat leader Benoît Lutgen (photo) says that Mr De Wever will need to come up with proposals before his party would enter any talks on the formation of a federal government.

  • Belgians prepare for another standoff after polls (cnsnews.com)
    The national mood in Belgium right now is like two different worlds. A giddy sense of unity has overtaken the country because the national soccer team is going to the World Cup, but a parliamentary election campaign has left the nation divided like never before.Schizophrenic? Maybe. Politics as usual? For sure.Beyond soccer, the divide between the Dutch-speaking Flemings and Francophones seems every bit as deep as four years ago when it took a record 541 days to form a government.
  • One Way Americans Can Feel Superior To Belgians, No Matter What Happens At The World Cup (thinkprogress.org)
    No matter what happens on the pitch this afternoon, though, Americans can be proud that the U.S. is actually not number one in the world when it comes to political gridlock. There, our competitors clearly takes the crown. The winning move in the competition, it seems, is simply not to play: Belgium at the moment doesn’t have a head of government.
    +
    “The electoral system – effectively two elections with separate French-speaking and Dutch-speaking parties appealing to different voters – means at least four parties, and two from each side, will be needed to form a governing coalition,” Reuters explained immediately after the May election. Already, Phillipe has had to relieve Bart De Wever of the Flemish separatist N-VA party that won the most seats in Parliament from his role as informateur, replacing him with French-speaking Charles Michel.
  • Flemish score wins in Belgian local election (worldbulletin.net)
    De Wever’s victory will not lead to the break-up of Belgium, but it is likely to have an impact on a national level.De Wever says he sees Belgium disintegrating gradually.

    The three Flemish parties in Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo’s six-party coalition suffered losses and their efforts to win back voters wanting more powers for Flanders could undermine their cooperation with French-speaking coalition partners.

    The federal government is about to begin difficult discussions to settle the budget for 2013.

    Di Rupo’s coalition is on course to pull the public sector deficit down to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product this year, from 3.7 percent in 2011, due to some 13 billion euros ($16.9 billion) of savings and tax hikes.

    It is estimated it will need to find a further 4-5 billion euros to achieve a deficit of 2.15 percent in 2013, a target made more difficult with economic stagnation or contraction expected this year and very limited growth next.

    Belgium’s division is as much economic as linguistic. In French-speaking Wallonia the unemployment rate is about twice the level of northern Flanders, where many voters feel they are subsidising left-wing policies of Belgium’s south.

    A recent study of the VIVES institute of the University of Leuven calculated that including interest the annual transfers between Flanders and Wallonia are about 16 billion euros.

  • Flemings Battle Walloons in Belgium, But They’ll Always Have Brazil (online.wsj.com)
    On Sunday, Peggy Van Den Bosch put on her horned hat in the colors of the Belgian flag, a red shirt and—around her wrist—a black, yellow and red ribbon. She then joined 12,000 others in a fan park to cheer on the Red Devils, Belgium’s national soccer team, as it beat Russia in a World Cup game in Brazil.

    Four Sundays earlier, Ms. Van Den Bosch voted for Belgium to be split up.

    In national elections on May 25, the 42-year-old was one of nearly two million Belgians—and almost half of Antwerpenaars—who supported separatist parties that want the country’s Dutch-speaking north to give the heave-ho to the poorer, French-speaking south.

    “The French part of the country is only taking our money and never giving anything back,” said Ms. Van Den Bosch, who like many separatists is unhappy with transfers of public wealth from Flanders to Wallonia.

    The success of Belgium’s national soccer team—whose late-game wins against Algeria and Russia made it one of the first squads to snatch a spot in the World Cup’s knockout stage—is captivating this country of 11 million people.

    On the one hand, separatist feelings are reaching fever pitch, with the New Flemish Alliance, or N-VA, gaining the most votes in the recent elections—although party leader Bart De Wever has so far failed to put together a coalition to govern. On the other, the Red Devils’ run in Brazil has been a big boost to national pride.

    “Two weeks ago, the country was full of Flemish flags, and now we’ve changed our minds and it’s full of Belgian flags,” says Lieven Scheire, a 33-year-old Flemish comedian who normally gets laughs by making light of Belgium and its inadequacies.

  • Belgian’s political odd couple may stick | Khaled Diab (guardian.co.uk)
    Sometimes living in Belgium can be a surreal and somewhat comic-book experience. With the economy haemorrhaging jobs, inequalities widening and an empty treasury looted by the banks, how has the government been occupying itself for the past three years?In contrast to their mostly moderate voters, Belgium’s Flemish and Walloon parties have been engaged in a bitter and Byzantine war of words over language and an obscure electoral turf war – over whether or not to split the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde electoral district – which matters to few outside the political class.

    Since the 2007 elections, one fragile coalition after another has risen and fallen over these petty issues, with the final nail in the coffin coming in April this year.

  • Belgium faces tough coalition talks after vote (nzherald.co.nz)
    “Our complicated country has become even more complicated,” said N-VA leader Bart De Wever after projections showed him with 34 seats in the 150 seat House, a gain of 7 to become by far the biggest party in parliament.The Francophone PS socialists of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo were projected to lose a seat to fall to 25 but remain the biggest in his region and second in the nation.

    During the election campaign, Di Rupo and De Wever used every opportunity to say how much they disliked each other. Now they will likely be forced into in national coalition talks that will be extremely difficult and protracted.

  • Language-split Belgium teeters back into crisis (expatica.com)
    Belgium risked plunging into a fresh political crisis on Wednesday after attempts to form a coalition government collapsed amid allegations Flemish nationalists were not committed to keeping the country together.Tough-talking Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, whose separatist N-VA party won last month’s general election, has been tasked by the king to form a coalition government.

    But Centrist Benoit Lutgen refused to join the proposed coalition, saying he had failed to win assurances that De Wever would keep the language-divided nation intact.

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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5 Responses to Walloon politicians have proven they will never be willing to be open to Flanders

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