Ceci n’est pas un gouvernement

Yesterday the Walloon socialist party, “Partie Socialiste”, held her annual new year’s reception. In his opening speech to party members, the chairman Elio Di Rupo made the following remark:

C’est la première fois, depuis 1831, que l’on doit former un gouvernement avec autour de la table un parti politique dont l’objectif statutaire est l’avènement d’une Flandre indépendante.

Translated into English this means:

It is the first time, since 1831 (the founding of Belgium as a sovereign nation), that we have to form a government sitting together with a politic party who’s statutory purpose states the advent of an independent Flanders.

For months, the Belgian political landscape has been colored by statements about an open dialog regarding the systemic reform of the state. Also the P.S. -La partie socialiste- has engaged itself to take part. After all they did win the elections in the southern part of Belgium on 13th of June of last year.

Yet a dialog or negotiation implies, in my view, that you are willing and able to listen to “the other side”.  In this case “the others” are the Flemish party N-VA, whom the above statement refers to as willing the advent of an independent Flanders.

So am I wrong in reading the above as follows: Had the proposals for government reform been put forward by another party, we would have happily considered them, but because the Flemish nationalists proposed them, we are refusing to look at them.?

If so, then there never has been an open dialog and the P.S. actually is admitting not to be willing to search for a negotiated solution, hoping to maintain the status quo. So they are to blame for the lack of progress, not the N-VA, as many French speaking media are suggesting?  (Just asking to ponder upon this a bit.)

Let me be crystal clear: in my personal opinion the cause for the current politic crisis in Belgium lies not in the incompetence or unwillingness of the current generation of politicians. I truly believe they are trying their best to search for an adequate solution, that can be supported by a broad consensus on both parts of Belgium.

To determine the origin of the current regime crisis in Belgium, I suggest you study closely the history of Belgium’s transition from National to Federal state. The seed for the current constitutional and institutional crisis was planted in the 70s of last century. Therein, lies the problem: the structures put in place at that time, while reforming Belgium without bloodshed, are too complex and are today threatening to be a restraint on economic and social growth. That is one of the reasons a reform is needed. We are a country of almost 11 million citizens and we have a government for every million citizens. (1 federal government, 3 communities, 3 regions, and 3 communal commissions in Brussels.)

This must be simplified. But as always, it is a matter of euros. With the redistribution of responsibilities comes the equal partition of budget, debt etc. Everyone can see that this is a hard exercise to master but, on the other hand the people elected the ones at the table to do exactly that for us.

Sorry for the non-it related rant.

B.