Belgium a colorful political country

During the many electionshows on tv, I wondered if there are many countries where political parties are often described by their colors. I suppose that must be only the case in countries where the political parties get proportionally represented in the parliament per district. In the Anglosaxan countries that is an win or loose system that results in less political parties anyway.

But not in Belgium. We have plenty of political parties, not always that different from each other. And they all have an associated color (most of them are internationally used, also in the Netherlands, Germany, ...). Socialists are obviously red and will always show up at press conferences with red backgrounds, or red dresses or .... Liberal parties treasure their blue color. Christian democrats in Europe are orange. Ecological parties have obviously green logo's and symbols, .... Since our government has to be made up by a coalition, it is easier to name the coalition with colors and not the partie names combination. Only orange is replaced by "Roman" referring to Rome => the vatican => the ancient long disappeared association with the "Christian" aspect of their name. So 8 years ago we got a purple/green government : liberals with socialists and the green partie. 4 years ago the green party got beaten up in the elections and we had a purple government. This purple government got seriously defeated last Sunday. So all new potential color combinations are getting studied right now: Roman-blue? Roman-red-green? A very big rainbow coalition?

It's going to be quite always. The cards have been shaken a lot more than was expected. You have to know that our parliament has Flemish and Wallonian representatives. In the north of the country we can vote only for Flemish political parties and representatives. In the south of the country they can vote for frenchspeaking political parties and representatives. And traditionally we vote very differently. And we don't even know each others politicians well. And the political programs are very different across the language border anyway. The Flemish socialists SP.A are not linked to the Wallonian PS, etc etc...

Nevertheless the coalition has always made up symmetrically across the country so far. This time however the Christian Democrats have had a big victory in Flanders, whereas their southern counterparts are not that big. In Wallonia the liberals are the big winners....who have lost in Flanders. Let's see if that works out again.

I bet it will be long negotiations all summer to make up a government program that everybody agrees too. All Flemish political parties want further restructurations of our democratic institutions, making the different regions more autonome than they already are. Especially the Flemish Christian Democrats made that their principal electoral promise. They are even allied with a separatist party. The irony is that such changes in the constitution need 66% majority on each side of the language border. So either they make a huge coalition with at least 6 polical parties ...or they have to break their major promise already. But how could they convince all those other parties to join them without major give-ins on other points then? So actually it's not so bad to be less big anyway: they are needed so they do have a strong negotiating position.
Anything is still possible. A lot of people actually seem fairly amused. Yves Leterme, the expected prime minister to be is not loved by everybody and so they are expecting him to struggle a lot, ...with some amusement.

To make it even more interesting: those same political parties make up the regional governments as well. So they could be an ally in the federal government and lead opposition against them in the region. Just to make it more complex. You wonder why so many people loose track in Belgium and become anti-political!

It's actually quite interesting to see the Flemish blogosphere and media. It seems to be quite "purple" colored: Lien, i. , Ann openly say they vote red, Huug seems very blue minded, also Michel and the sponzen ridder don't seem enthousiastic about the election result. Actually that feeling seems to be reflected in all newspapers and comments at work etc as well. Somehow I have the feeling that nobody wanted the uppercut for the socialists and liberals to be that big. So you wonder where the heck all those "tsjeven" (nickname for 'christian' conservative voters) live?

I didn't think our 'purple' government was that bad either, it had its ups and downs as does every government. But all by all I think they did a good job. I am fairly suspicious for the christian democrats, I was missing any positive specific program points to support. I definately don't like their seperatistic ally! But on the other hand, since all our governments are made up by coalitions, all extremes are usually faded out anyway and we get a fairly stable ruling. So it should be ok.

And I think it is natural for politics to change after x years. 8 years seems to be the expiration time of any government: Martens was our prime minister for longer than that but had to step down, Dehaene was our prime minister for 8 years, Verhofstadt was our prime minister for 8 years. Clinton could rule for 2 periods, I am convinced that Bush will not start a 3rd period either. Tony Blair had to step down after x years, .... I think it is healthy as well for a society to change. Power for too long makes corrupt and lazy.
Additionally, in the 90ies the socialists seemed to get in power everywhere in Europe: Tony Blair, Schröder in Germany, Jospin in France, ... And now we are shifting to the right all over: Tony Blair looses elections in UK, Wouter Bos lost in the Netherlands and Christian Democrat Balkenende is prime minister, Angela Merkel (christian democrat as well...CDU???) is chancellor in Germany, Sarkozy beats Ségolène Royal big time in France. Interesting to see those international links , huh??? Although I do regret that shift to the conservative, non-tolerant right!! Let's hope the swing will swing back in a couple of years huh?

In Flanders at least the Vlaams Belang, our racist extreme right seperatist party has lost a seat. After 16 years of growth, they seem to have reached the limits of their potential. Pheeeewww. That is the best news those elections have brought us! 3 cheers for that!

Hey..and it's not even sure yet that Yves Leterme will become prime minister yet...anything could happen in Belgium. Colorful and complex!


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