For some years now in Belgium, one can see that the political parties have been doing anything but well. Not only is there a lot of bickering between the parties, even in their own living rooms things are not going so smoothly and there is a lot of shuffling of posts to keep people happy, but also to screw others.
During the Corona period, all sorts of evil tongues emerged claiming that the state was cheating us and wanted to chain us. In several countries, we saw Covid deniers and anti-vaxers rise up claiming that with the current government, we could not be free and that one should therefore put (far) right-wing leaders in power and get rid of the ‘left-wing cheaters’.
It was remarkable how politicians who had cheated already before the people, like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro could once more lie and cheat while a large part of the population did not realise how they were being deceived.
From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from the nobility and mercantilism, towards capitalism. As we entered this century, it can be said that the majority of Western countries had a population wedded to acquiring ever more capital, whatever the cost. The majority do not care what the impact of their behaviour may be on their environment, nature, which has come under increasing pressure as a result. But also concerning our nature there are the deniers of climate change, who have a strong voice in many countries, in particular very polluting ones, like the United States of America.
The economic and ecological factors have become the plaything of a lot of politicians. Especially now with the war in Ukraine, a war seems to have broken out across Europe between those government leaders on whether or not to keep nuclear power, and energy independence, as well as whether or not to move to more environmentally clean energy sources.
In Belgium, it became absurd at one point a Green Party (the Flemish political party in Belgium Groen) that prefaced that citizens would no longer be allowed to cook on gas from 2025 while they authorised the construction of a gas power plant to generate electricity. (Understanding who can understand!)
After the Corona crisis, at least the energy crisis ensured that the trustees had something to bicker about again and argue endlessly while not caring about the citizens who saw their energy bills travelling upwards.
The political circus has gone sour in the bed and has given people more of a dislike for politics than arousing interest in it. The trend of an ungovernable country has not calmed tempers, but on the contrary, has created a nervousness that makes it even more difficult to be taken seriously and govern soundly.
Across the industrialised countries, with the ongoing threat of war and economic crisis, serious thought will have to be given to how to keep the country under control and how to provide adequate protection for citizens. In several countries, voices are also rising to form a new centrist front or centrist alliances. Meanwhile, the left parties in Belgium, are not giving in to the undemocratic pressure to push them into the damned corner. They continue to work for the citizens forgotten by many political parties.
Though some of those left parties, like the Flemish social democratic political party Vooruit, the Flemish Groen and its Walloon sister Ecolo, have sometimes forgotten where they came from and how they should be there for the ordinary man in the street. It is by sailing away from the necessities of the common people that most citizens have lost interest in politics.
What happened in the Belgian federal parliamentary elections of 24 November 1991 staggered many people, mainly because the major parties did not want to take into account the voice of the people, who had clearly chosen two right-wing parties, where the far-right Vlaams Blok party (Flemish Block, or VB) had received 405,247 votes or 6.6 % good for 12 seats in the Belgian chamber and 414,481 votes for the senate with 8% good for 5 seats.
However, then the majority parties decided to undemocratically declare a cordon sanitaire dagainst the far-right group that for several years had to change its name (due to some lawsuits) to Vlaams Belang.
Beginning in the late 1980s the far-right Flemish nationalist Vlaams Blok party had already began to make significant electoral gains which made the other politicians afraid they would lose their electorate. Their stand against the far right party forced them in the formation of grand coalition governments between ideological rivals, which we became used too until now. But the current coalition does not seem to be working at all and the regular shifts in the group of government leaders has not brought any solution to accelerate solutions for the good of the country.
Last week, we could hear on the TV news Friday night results of a new poll by Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News) and VTM Nieuws (Flemish television network News), which did not surprise us at all.
It has been in the air for months that because of all the bickering, people are fed up with politics, but also that they are sick of not being heard.
Several members of various Flemish parties have questioned the viability of the cordon sanitaire and can see how partly because of that attitude of the government the members of that one party that responds to this intensely, can sell a lot of nonsense by which it can appease the people nicely and thus grow in popularity and further gain more votes.
As expected, this poll came out with nothing new when it exposed that Vlaams Belang may triumph. In fact, I am surprised that the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, Open Vld and the Flemish Christian Democratic and Flemish cd&v have not further regressed, still managing to hover below the symbolic 10 per cent mark.
According to Belgian professor at KU Leuven, church lawyer, well-known media figure and former Christian Democrat politician Rik Torfs, that poll shows that there is clearly a need for a new and credible centre,
“selfless, decisive and in line with what the average Fleming thinks and hopes for.”
As a member of CD&V he aspired to reconceptualise the political ideology of the party together with a.o. Inge Vervotte, who had started her professional career with the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV).
Just to make an other movement does not make any sense. This country already has more than enough movements and a great shortage of “doenders” (those who do) or political parties that dare to reach out to the common people. Only the Labour Party PvdA – PTB has clearly shown in recent months who stands up for the interests of the small citizen and stood with them each time for well-founded demands.
Torfs is rightly very worried about the evaporation of the political centre. Among the parties that should belong to it, far too much energy has been lost in ramming other parties with, in particular, the undemocratic exclusion of two extreme parties, being Vlaams Belang as well as the party they fear even more, the PvdA, which they believe could turn workers against the state. The former Cd&V supporter Torfs wishes to think with others about where we want to go with this country. He says
“You can feel and see from everything that a new force is needed at the centre. Having said that, there does seem to be a big gap between that and founding a new party.
Right now, we are simply looking for ways to stimulate political debate. What concrete form that will take is still unclear. No formal steps have been taken yet.”
But is that political debate yet to be stimulated? Do they want to recapture Flanders with slogans “Not right, not left”?
How do they want to profile themselves in a country where so much division has been sown by politicians?
Are they going for Flemish identity and sovereignty, without wanting to be extreme?
Or are they going to have to admit that the choice of the Labour Party PvdA – PTB to leave Belgium as a country is the only way to remain strong in Europe?
How long is it going to take before the politicians are going to see that we are slowly seeing the flowering/world collapse of capitalist civilisation. In our world full of diversification, we should allow different opinions next to each other. Excluding one or demonising another, shall not help the credibility of the one promoting the exclusion of the other.
Being blind for the poverty that increases in Europe is not going to help either. the present government not taking swift action to help to minimise the energy bill of the people, made them more incredulous and not to be trusted, as they give no impression of being truly concerned about the people.
Question for those thinking about a new centrist group, we can wonder how much they are willing to leave their old ideas at the side. Or are they going to cling to the polishing and re-polishing of “classic” politics in order to avoid the humbling uncertainties of the ever-changing struggle our world has to cope with?
Following more than a century of anticommunist repression and class collaboration on the part of labour’s misleaders, the official labour movement has lost sight of its historic mission: to wage a class struggle against capital in order to improve material conditions for working people, while laying the groundwork for a global socialist revolution capable of overthrowing and abolishing capital’s social domination and liberating working people from all forms of exploitation and oppression.
In 2020, the socialists re-entered the Belgian federal government as part of the De Croo Government. The Flemish social democratic political party in Belgium Vooruit, previously known as the Flemish Socialist Party SP and shortly as SP-A (Socialistische Partij Anders) want perhaps to get rid of her past to betray social common good, what it has done several times.
The son of former sp.a politician and university professor Christel Geerts who was the mayor of Sint-Niklaas and John Rousseau, a former basketball player, Conner Rousseau is not doing bad steps forwards to bring back the social idea into the picture. Perhaps he was so aware of the bad impression the socialist party had made the last thirty years that he in 2020 announced his intention to change the name of the party from Socialistische Partij Anders (Socialist Party Differently) to Vooruit meaning “Forward.” The motion was approved by party members and came into effect in 2021 and from then onwards he came more in the picture as an enthusiastic young man who knows very well where he wants to go. It is this clear vision that most politicians could no longer present to the general public at all. This while the population wants clarity and measures that can prove their worth.
Great problem still is that we still hear labour’s misleaders calling for greater collaboration with the bosses, extolling the virtues of “peace” and “cooperation” between labour and capital.
Those who now think of making a centre party come from the Catholic leaders who pride themselves on maintaining their rule and from the defenders of big capital and profit-raising stimulators. Because of their origin, that does not bode well for the worker and the fair distribution in our society.
Rousseau may have caused some controversy when he was videoed dancing at a wedding party in July 2020 in Fréjus, France without wearing a mask during the COVID-19 lockdown, but in the following months, he showed clearly not to be afraid of tackling worse issues. In the coming months it will be looking forward to him and his party, how these will profile themselves back to a party for the people who will strive to achieve greater equality among the people of workers and non-working people.
Meanwhile, the only party that has remained true to its statutes and objectives continues to urge the government to do more and better work to soften people’s bills.
I will wonder how long the government and many leaders of the other political parties will be able to continue to blacken the PvdA and/or ignore them, and how long it will be before the eyes of the people will see that that party wants the best for them and the country.
In any case, it is quite possible that before we come across the 2024 elections, there will be a (necessary) landslide in Belgium.
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