Belgium in Crisis!!!


Pieter Cleppe explains it all*: “Belgium on the edge of splitting up? Letâ??s hope so. Freedom thrives with decentralisation.”

*Well, not really all. What happens to the small German-speaking region of Belgium in the event of a Flemish-Walloon divorce?

11 Responses to “Belgium in Crisis!!!”

  1. Oh, if only Cleppe had explained it all…

    Actually, the German-speaking region is the least of worries. They have little political clout and would probably join the French speakers without too much trouble. A more likely trouble spot is those suburbs of Brussels that are in Flanders (the yellow part on the map) but have a substantial francophone minority. The exact way in which their residents get to vote for the many different overlapping representative bodies is already the subject of an ongoing constitutional crisis.

  2. Sure, the fate of the German community won’t pose a problem. Their minister-president already mentioned the possibility to become independent, as they are more populated than San Marino (I concur).

    Indeed I didn’t mention the French speaking community, living in Flanders, around Brussels. They would probably retain minority rights in an independent Flanders.

  3. The fact that Belgium has been without a new government for a few months, and is likely to be without one for some more time, is of course a good thing. No new taxes and no new regulations.
    On another point: in Anglo-Saxon countries there is still a mistaken belief that the Christian Democrat Party in Belgium is somehow Conservative/Republican. Of course it is not: during the negotiations in Hertoginnendal to form a new government they proposed…to increase taxes.

  4. It is strange to hear a libertarian say “the two communities are culturally as different as the US and Mexico”. This “volksgeist” retoric is becoming all the rage these days in Belgium and it’s actually quite depressing, especially since it is apparently espoused by the few classical liberals we have. These ethnic identities are constructed by politicians who capitalize on the most popular political drumbeat in history: Us vs. Them. Seriously: what, in a non-communitarian woldview, is more meaningfully different about this guy who lives 25 kms to the south of you than this other guy who lives 20 kms to the south of you? Why do you want to pitch yourself as so “culturally different”?

    Of course the whole welfare transfer thing is relevant to libertarians. But the much-maligned transfers from Flanders to Wallonia mask enormous regional differences. Which is exactly as you would expect. Wealthy French-speaking areas like Wallonian Brabant are net payers, while poorer Flemish areas like Limburg and West Flanders are net receivers. Again: why, for a classical liberal, the zeal to milk the figures for an ethnic story?

    With arguments like these, the whole decentralization argument (which has its merits) starts to look like window-dressing. And don’t fool yourself. Maybe small countries are the wave of the future, I don’t know. I guess we should all be selling our US stocks then. But 10M people on 30,000 square kms is already small, by any standard. And I’ve never heard of even a small country that thought it a swell idea to have its main wealth-creating region (Brussels) suddenly transferred out of the country.

    Sorry for the Belgian rant. I realize not many people will get overly excited.

  5. g van den Bergh

    Belgium in crisis?
    Not really though. The situation Pieter Kleppe descibred is true indeed, although to postulate that there is a genuine possibility for the end of Belgium is, in my opinion, unnecessary.

    Perhaps first some numbers to get some insight. From a recent research by iVox for the Flemish Newspaper ‘Het Nieuwblad’, the following results were found:
    39,1 percent of the Flemish people agrees to give up Belgium and become an independent state. At the Wallonian side, 12,7 percent of the people is willing to deconstruct Belgium.

    As even the vast majority of the people is against the end of Belgium, would there be any possibility for the winning parties (of which none are real flemish nationalist, let that be clear) to break up the country at this stage, without the support from there voters and, as Cleppe did put out in a good way, the ‘establishment’?

    Another important factor is the Lodge or the Freemasons. Although in here in England, the lodge is quite powerful but also very transparent, in Belgium that is not the case. The lodge or ‘Groot Orde Belgie/Great Order Belgium’ is constituted for one big purpose: the preservation of the Belgian state. And the leading figures are: the socialist and the liberals (on both sides, as you have a Flemish and a Wallonian liberal and socialist party). Since the liberals are in the winning team, they will never advocate at Hertoginnendal the independance of Flanders/Brussels/Wallonia.

  6. Another thing I eagerly want to expound is the misconception JP pointed at. What does the Christian Democratic Party stand for?

    I have had a lot of conversations in my village and with CD&V MP’s about their actual ideology and policy. Basically, they all answer ‘a christian democracy of course’, but then when I enquire about the meaning of that, they have never been able to give me an appropriate, grounded defenition.

    But at last, I found someone, though not related to the party, who was able to give me an explanation of there ideological roots, namely a monk.
    The root of the CD&V ideology is the personalism. This is a philosophical sub-movement, closely related to Immanuel Lévinas theory of the ‘other’. But what is the most remarkable, personalism originates from… the USA, more precisely from Boston, in the early 2Oth century. Its founder is Bowne, who emphasized the person as the fundamental category for explaining reality and asserted that only persons are real. He stood in opposition to certain forms of materialism which would describe persons as mere particles of matter.

    But the Philosopher, or more theologian, where the CD&V build its theory on( as also the largest party in the EU, the EVP, notably ruled by Wilfried Martens, ex-CD&V PM) the personalism of Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) Personalism was seen as an alternative to both Liberalism and Marxism, which respected human rights and the human personality without indulging in excessive collectivism. Mounier’s Personalism had an important influence in France, and hence in Belgium as well.

    Famous adherents of personalism are: ML King, and Pope JPII, pope Benedict and … Tony Blair.

    But the actual policy of the CD&V is based on the same principle whereby Tony Blair won his second elections: looking at what the ‘floating voters’ want to hear, say it, and become elected.

    Another thing which has to be mentionned though, is that the CD&V still relies on a very large base of very loyal (Catholic) voters.

  7. rainbow sally

    Decentralization is not always that great a thing.


    Weak central government is not the solution for everything.


    Divide and conquer is not a particularly novel invention, and what did Ben Franklin mean by Join or Die?

    I Don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I just read the intro and there’s nothing “given” about split ups being good so I thought I’d remind everyone that the “eternal vigilance” may not have been about the fedrul gubmint after all. It may have been about those we elect to run it.

    And we haven’t run them all out of town yet.

  8. A country with several jurisdictions in it (each having ca 100 000 people) would be a good thing, whether in Belgium, Iraq, or elsewhere. Such a setup makes it possible to test several approaches at the same time and compare the results. It also leaves room for different preferences. The main difficulty to solve is to initiate a process to transfer as much legislative responsibilities as possible to the counties, districts, and townships.

  9. Jeroen, sorry for the late reaction to your quote:

    “It is strange to hear a libertarian say “the two communities are culturally as different as the US and Mexico”. (…) Why do you want to pitch yourself as so “culturally different”?”

    –> I think there exists something like peoples and cultures, no? I think one should agree with how Friedrich Nietzsche has put it:

    “Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brethren: here there are states. A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples. A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.” (Friedrich Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra)

    –> for a libertarian, it is natural to accept and to stress the difference between cultures and the richdom of it. Because, after all, for a libertarian the smallest cultural entity is the individual. And in my text I do not show much loyalty to a future Flemish state, as it would be a good thing to split that up as well.

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