5 months after the elections: a crazy circus
Since much to my surprise I always get interested comments on my political posts, I am motivated to continue them. For those of you who are not interested in the crazy Belgian politics at all...don't worry I have more posts in my head that will have totally different topics!
My last post ended with "to be continued" and it was indeed a very eventful political week in Belgium. Whether it was 'historical', 'shameful' or just a big farce, the future will sort that out.
As the negotiations about splitting the electoral district around Brussels didn't work out (as predicted) neither was there any progress on instutional reform...the Flemish kept their ultimatum against the Frenchspeaking and showed their self-acclaimed 5 minutes of courage to vote their own proposition of the split for the electoral district in the parliament. A historical never shown where there is truly a vote in our federal parliament: Dutchspeaking against Frenchspeaking. The cold war between both country parts is now complete and official. It was widely covered in our media from minute to minute as it was also visible in foreign press (eg Washington Post). Since you can consider this vote as a clear provocation, the Frenchspeaking representatives walked out, also as predicted. And now they'll start up a protective process which should prevent one language group bullying or dominating the other one. A process where the bill will end up at the governments table a couple of times for feedback...if there is a government of course.
Result of those "5 minutes of courage": the bill is now ending up in a long slow administrative process so the split is not there yet at all. The king has urged Leterme to continue government negotiations with a focus on economical-social points whereas he has ordered the heads of parliament and senate to continue work on how and when to progress an institutional reform. If the king has ordered that...Leterme has done so, since the king cannot make political decisions on his own.
Suspicion rises now whether it hasn't all been an orchestrated crisis by the parties at the negotiating table: Flemish have been able to show that they are serious about reform and that they even dare to blow up the government negotiations etc...so if they form a government without institutional reform, they don't loose their face. The Frenchspeaking have in reality now the guarentee that this split is not happening anywhere in the near future.
Nevertheless the government negotiations have come to a standstill: the Frenchspeaking parties only want to continue when the Flemish give them a proof of "goodwill"...something the Flemish think of as insulting so they refuse. And the Flemish have realised now that their strategy has failed and that all constitutional reform is getting delayed now, they demand guarantees that an institutional reform will take place before they get into a government together.
So we head back to the start 5 months after the elections.
More background on all our government formations can be followed on wikipedia !