Waiting for Godot

The British voters were stressed after May 6th because their election result had given none of the 3 political parties an overall majority. Ugh, a hung parliament, what a horror. For a full 5 days the country was government-less, at perilous risk of floating without any direction in the North Sea. Thank goodness they had not drifted off yet during that long week.

The Netherlands had elections on June 9th and Belgium had its elections on June 13th....both countries are still waiting for their new government to be formed. In both countries a formation attempt failed last Friday (once again).
Who wants to place a bet which country will have a government sworn in first? By when?

In the Netherlands 10 political parties had representatives elected in the house of representatives but the seats are in such a way divided that at least 3 political parties need to form a coalition to get a majority in the parliament. Only 4 combinations are possible but since some political parties veto each other, the options are rather small. Yet the difference between those around the table seem that deep that they've had already 4 failed formation attempts.

So what about Belgium? Ha, good question. Well we're probably waiting for Godot.
As predicted before the elections, parties that distrust each other are forced to sit together at the table. Well at first the media seemed quite optimistic though, although I didn't quite understand.
We had a "tsunami" election, at least in Flanders. After 3 years of political instability , mainly due to the unability (to form) any government that agreed upon a state reform and organize some regional/linguistic disputes, the NVA had grown from a little sattelite party that needed to team up with a big mainstream party in 2007 to the biggest party in Flanders (27%). After years that the Wallonian political parties had blocked off any reform, the Flemish had voted the party that promotes civic regionalism and that openly strives to a Flemish independence in the long run in a non-revolutionary way to a party that could no longer be ignored. On the other side of the language border the socialist party PS was the clear winner. 2 clear winners ....despite their differences would have no other choice but to bridge the gap in between them and convince some other needed parties alongside with them.

It was quite interesting in the beginning as the 2 circled around each other, sniffled and surprisingly seemed to get along. Bart De Wever, the president of the NVA, didn't have the ambition to become the prime minister of the country he wants to slowly dissolve so Elio Di Rupo, the president of the PS smelled his chance to become the first Frenchspeaking prime minister in Belgium since 1974. And Bart DW agreed on forming a government without the liberal parties that the PS had so much difficulty with.

But did the Frenchspeaking political parties all of a sudden want to reform the country? Could they all of a sudden live with the Flemish vision of "confederalism"? Did they finally realise that they created what they feared by blocking all reform negotiations: more and more nationalism in Flanders?

And what would Bart De Wever do? His party had grown so much due to their reputation never to compromise. Their core was made up by Flemish democratic hardliners who are convinced that politics at the Belgian federal level simply don't work anymore. But he had won the election by all the new voters who were not at all convinced that Flemish independence should be the end goal but who simply wanted to send out a clear message that they were fed up.
So would he make compromises this time? Or would he make outrageous demands (in the eyes of the opponents) so that all formations would fail and he could prove that the federal government doesn't function anymore.

It looked positive for a long time. Unlike 2007-2008-2009 there were talks about the content of the needed reforms, no longer about the question whether we needed a reform. But the Flemish say that more responsibilities for the regions also requires financial reform. And here the water was way too deep. Bold statements came back, threats, leaks, ....all the crap is back. And we're waiting for Godot while all the politicians are having coffee with the king again who needs to calm down the tensions. I bet he longs for his retirement!


Lilacspecs said…
I like Bart De Wever. I think he handled his side of the situation very well. I'll try hard to keep the pro-flemish attitudes I get from my environment out simply by saying that it surprises me that this took so long to happen and that I'm sort of tickled that it's happening while I live here.
Brian Miller said…
i know nothing of your politics...i just hope it ends better than ours seem to at times...
FXOX said…
Ha, Australian elections were hung too!!!

Tho now we have our first female prime minister!

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