Belgium might get a government

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Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:44 am UTC

After 15 months of negotiations, Belgian politicians claim to have agreed on the major points needed to form a government.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14925942 wrote:The mediator trying to form a government in Belgium has announced a breakthrough after tense negotiations.
Politician Elio Di Rupo said the eight parties in the talks had agreed on moves to resolve key sticking points.
They included the division of power between French- and Dutch-speaking communities, he said.
The country has been without an elected government for 15 months. Disagreement centres on electoral boundaries in the linguistically divided Brussels region.
"The eight parties have together succeeded in overcoming the obstacles which have created difficulties these last few days," Mr Di Rupo said in a statement.
Belgium's political crisis worsened on Tuesday when caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme announced he was leaving to take up a new job in Paris.
King Albert II cut short a holiday in France to fly back to Brussels following the news.
The king had appointed Mr Di Rupo, leader of Belgium's second-biggest party the French-speaking Socialist Party, to negotiate a coalition deal.
On Wednesday Mr Di Rupo said that negotiations faced imminent collapse and warned: "The future of the country is at stake."
But after further intense talks on Wednesday he was finally able to announce a breakthrough.
He said the parties had agreed on solutions to sticking points including a dispute over Bruxelles-Hal-Vilvorde (BHV), a district covering the capital and the suburbs.
BHV is the only district officially bilingual rather than French- or Dutch-speaking.
"Even if the work is far from being finished and numerous debates have to be have to be worked out, the steps taken today... constitute an important step," the statement added.
Financial markets and rating agencies are pressing the country to create an effective government capable of carrying out structural reforms and reducing debt.
Mr Leterme announced he would leave by the end of this year to take up a post at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.



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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:01 am UTC

I am conflicted about this. On the one hand getting a government is usually considered a good thing, on the other I read an article recently pointing out that Belgium's GDP growth rate is higher than the rest of the Eurozone, and life seems to roughly be carrying on as usual.

Which says a bit about the effectiveness of politicians.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Evengeduld » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:08 am UTC

It's about time those idiots managed to split BHV it only took them 48 years to clean up the mess they made when they split the country in 2 (French and Flemish).

But still it is a nice break through :D

on the other I read an article recently pointing out that Belgium's GDP growth rate is higher than the rest of the Eurozone, and life seems to roughly be carrying on as usual.

Well yeah we did prove like no other that you don't need a government to live your life. However getting a full instated government would be nice to have to as now most public services and repairs to government owned facilities are on an all time low since they can't get new budget without having the new government to approve the budget for next year...
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:09 am UTC

Ah, I was under the impression that the budget rolled over in this kind of situation. That is quite a major problem!

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Evengeduld » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:36 am UTC

Yeah it is :)

So when they don't have a gov by october the resigning gov will have to make the budget plans for 2012. Which in theory is not legally binding as the resigning gov can't make any new desicions.
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Eowiel » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:32 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:Ah, I was under the impression that the budget rolled over in this kind of situation. That is quite a major problem!


The budget actually does roll over in this situation, parliamant can grant the executive government a so called provisional twelfth each month (one twelfth of the previous yearly budget). I don't think that in practice the parliament has ever even hinted at not granting it.


While a lot of the political parties have accused each other of causing financial hardship for the country by not forming a government, the lack of a government has not yet caused any major issues. The government spent less and the economy is doing better. That's doesn't ncecessarily provide evidence for a causal link between the two but the doom and gloom predictions with respect to the future of the Belgian economy clearly aren't true.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:38 pm UTC

Eowiel wrote:The budget actually does roll over in this situation, parliamant can grant the executive government a so called provisional twelfth each month (one twelfth of the previous yearly budget). I don't think that in practice the parliament has ever even hinted at not granting it.

That sounds like a fairly sensible way of doing things. What's the feeling in Belgium for splitting the country in half? If I remember correctly the big problem is Brussels, as it's in the "wrong" half of country language wise. I've often wondered if the EU wouldn't just try to declare Brussels a city-state ala Washington DC.

Eowiel wrote:The government spent less and the economy is doing better. That's doesn't ncecessarily provide evidence for a causal link between the two but the doom and gloom predictions with respect to the future of the Belgian economy clearly aren't true.

I'm often amazed at politicians trying to claiming causal links between what their policies and the good of an economy. Of course big policy changes or big spending/cuts will influence GDP figures, but the average policy change is like trying to steer the titanic with a teaspoon.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Evengeduld » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:53 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:What's the feeling in Belgium for splitting the country in half?


Well the feeling in Belgium is from what a 23 year old can see is this:

- You have retards claiming that a split would be a good thing to do. But as said they are retards.

- You have people like me who think the politicians should sucks up there differences and make a goddamn government already.

- And you have the few people who really don't care as business goes on as usual.

besides that it would cost a hell of a lot of money (which we don't have to spare)

Deep_Thought wrote:If I remember correctly the big problem is Brussels, as it's in the "wrong" half of country language wise.


Well the funny thing is that it actually isn't. When it was first split 48 years ago (don't ask me why) it was decided to be a tri-langual capital of Belgium (Yes tri because everyone forgets the german part) Over the course of the years many people started moving towards the capital overflowing it and expanding. Like in every 'healthy' city so when the city was full people started moving to the sub-urbs and that is when problems started.

Those sub-urbs are Flemish and every service provided there will be done in flemish that is what the french speaking people didn't like off course. A few diferent governments fall over the desicion on how to split it and make sure everyone is happy.

By the years 2008? there are elections for the city's well by now there are still 3 french mayor who aren't assigned to their post because well they are french and it is a flemish city.

Deep_Thought wrote:I've often wondered if the EU wouldn't just try to declare Brussels a city-state ala Washington DC.


Well yeah good idea, but who get's what?
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Eowiel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:22 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:
Eowiel wrote:The budget actually does roll over in this situation, parliamant can grant the executive government a so called provisional twelfth each month (one twelfth of the previous yearly budget). I don't think that in practice the parliament has ever even hinted at not granting it.

That sounds like a fairly sensible way of doing things. What's the feeling in Belgium for splitting the country in half? If I remember correctly the big problem is Brussels, as it's in the "wrong" half of country language wise. I've often wondered if the EU wouldn't just try to declare Brussels a city-state ala Washington DC.



In general, the Belgian population is not really nationalistic, neither with respect to the country Belgium, nor with respect to the states (the Dutch speaking Flanders and the French speaking Wallonia). The desire to split the country comes almost solely from the Flemish population but even amongst them, a majority would rather have a shift of authority from the country to the states (becoming a confederacy) than a full blown split. However, they don't really oppose a split either if it should turn out to be necessary to get more independance.

The most widespread reason why a split is favoured (amongst numeruous others) is that people in Flandres don't believe the Belgian state offers any added value. Politically Flandres and Wallonia want to go a different direction, Flandres votes more liberal (economically), while Wallonia votes socialist. This results in a lot of immobilism since both states can veto each other's decision on a federal level. Add to that the fact that a lot of money flows from Flandres to Wallonia and some historical issues and you get an idea why people want to split the country.

In the scenario of an actual split, Brussels would indeed be a major problem. Brussels and the surrounding region is Flemish territory and is historically Dutch speaking. The language has however changed to French during the last 50 years and this change is still continuing. Both Flandres and Wallonia "claim" the city. Making it some sort of a European Washington DC could be a solution. However, since an actual split is probably not really something for the near future, it's currently more of theoretical problem than something politicians are actually trying to resolve.



EDIT: (this might be a bit technical for people not familiar with Belgium)

Evengeduld wrote:
Deep_Thought wrote:If I remember correctly the big problem is Brussels, as it's in the "wrong" half of country language wise.


Well the funny thing is that it actually isn't. When it was first split 48 years ago (don't ask me why) it was decided to be a tri-langual capital of Belgium (Yes tri because everyone forgets the german part) Over the course of the years many people started moving towards the capital overflowing it and expanding. Like in every 'healthy' city so when the city was full people started moving to the sub-urbs and that is when problems started.

Those sub-urbs are Flemish and every service provided there will be done in flemish that is what the french speaking people didn't like off course. A few diferent governments fall over the desicion on how to split it and make sure everyone is happy.

By the years 2008? there are elections for the city's well by now there are still 3 french mayor who aren't assigned to their post because well they are french and it is a flemish city.




It's never been decided that Brussels would be a trilingual capital. Brussels is a bilingual capital, while there is a small German speaking community in Belgium (annexed after WW1) they don't live in Brussels. You won't find a law that states that German is an official language in Brussels.

Also, those 3 French speaking mayors aren't assigned because they (deliberately) did not adhere to the language laws applicable in their cities. Specifically they sent the election announcements in French instead of in Dutch as they were legally required to do. So it's not like they were not appointed merely because they are French speaking. They knew very well this would cause issues.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:43 am UTC

Thanks for the responses guys. I would also guess that any future direction depends on what happens with the EU in the next year or so. If Germany finally decides to back a "United States of Europe" model and we get increased Federalism at an EU level then I would guess that splitting Belgium into states within Europe would become easier.
Eowiel wrote:Also, those 3 French speaking mayors aren't assigned because they (deliberately) did not adhere to the language laws applicable in their cities. Specifically they sent the election announcements in French instead of in Dutch as they were legally required to do. So it's not like they were not appointed merely because they are French speaking. They knew very well this would cause issues.

I hate it when politicians do stuff like this. What did they think would happen? On the administrative side of things in the UK, we've had investment in the train network delayed heavily because some paperwork wasn't done properly back in the 90s :(

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:52 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote: If Germany finally decides to back a "United States of Europe" model and we get increased Federalism at an EU level then I would guess that splitting Belgium into states within Europe would become easier.

But why should Germany support that? Belgium might be the only country with widespread support for a federal Europe. For the rest of Europe, the ideal is mostly to have as little federalism as can be made workable.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Eowiel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:59 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:Thanks for the responses guys. I would also guess that any future direction depends on what happens with the EU in the next year or so. If Germany finally decides to back a "United States of Europe" model and we get increased Federalism at an EU level then I would guess that splitting Belgium into states within Europe would become easier.


Indeed, without the European Union separatism probably would never have become a mainstream opinion. Because of Europe, becoming smaller has no detrimental impact on currency, borders, import duties,...

That's also the discourse of the main separatist party (which is also the biggest political party of the country). They state that in time both the states and the EU will take authority away from the Belgian level, eventually dissolving the Belgian governmental level.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:05 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:But why should Germany support that? Belgium might be the only country with widespread support for a federal Europe. For the rest of Europe, the ideal is mostly to have as little federalism as can be made workable.

Note I said if Germany chooses to do so. You will find people in any given European country who support a whole lot more European integration (The MEPs usually, for starters), and you'll find a whole lot of people who ardently hate the EU and everything it stands for. I'd argue that right now the Euro in particular is not going to survive without a greater level of financial integration, and that that can't happen without further political integration. The status quo isn't really working right now.

I'm personally ambivalent about the matter. I very much like the idea of working together within Europe more, particularly on certain issues like energy and defence. However I hate the corruption involved in the current EU setup, and the fact that the European Parliament and Commission are not very democratic currently. Then there's the fact that I just plain like the buildings that house the Bank of England and Houses of Parliament, so don't want them to disappear ;)

Eowiel wrote:Indeed, without the European Union separatism probably would never have become a mainstream opinion. Because of Europe, becoming smaller has no detrimental impact on currency, borders, import duties,...

It's roughly the same for Scotland within the UK/EU. I don't think Scottish Nationalism would have got very far without the prospect of being a country within the EU.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Diadem » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

Evengeduld wrote:Yeah it is :)

So when they don't have a gov by october the resigning gov will have to make the budget plans for 2012. Which in theory is not legally binding as the resigning gov can't make any new desicions.

Interesting. Not even with parliamentary approval? Here in The Netherlands a government in such a situation is called 'demissionary'. They aren't allowed to make any controversial decisions, but parliament decides what is controversial. As a rule, any issue which is not unanimous or nearly unanimous will be controversial. But it's also understood that you can't postpone things indefinitely, so some issues will still have to be treated, controversial or not.


What I find interesting is that Yves Leterme announced he's resigning. That's really not done. You can't walk out on a job like PM. Part of the job is staying on until there's someone to replace you. But well, after 15 months, I don't think anyone can blame you. There's only so long you can put your life at hold and life in perpetual uncertainty because others can't get their shit together. So good for him. But it's really unheard of, and it shows how deep the problems are.
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Eowiel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:33 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Evengeduld wrote:Yeah it is :)

So when they don't have a gov by october the resigning gov will have to make the budget plans for 2012. Which in theory is not legally binding as the resigning gov can't make any new desicions.

Interesting. Not even with parliamentary approval? Here in The Netherlands a government in such a situation is called 'demissionary'. They aren't allowed to make any controversial decisions, but parliament decides what is controversial. As a rule, any issue which is not unanimous or nearly unanimous will be controversial. But it's also understood that you can't postpone things indefinitely, so some issues will still have to be treated, controversial or not.


It works exactly the same in Belgium, though I'm not sure whether it is required that parliament decides what is controversial or not. The demissionary government only has authority over what we call "running affairs". The thing is that deciding on the yearly budget is often the most important thing a government does, so it would be a stretch to call it a running affair. However, as long as the winning political party or parties don't complain that the previous government is making the calls, the budget wouldn't be considered unconstitutional I guess and in the current situation the winning political party apparently has enough common sense to not complain a lot.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:56 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:What I find interesting is that Yves Leterme announced he's resigning. That's really not done. You can't walk out on a job like PM. Part of the job is staying on until there's someone to replace you. But well, after 15 months, I don't think anyone can blame you. There's only so long you can put your life at hold and life in perpetual uncertainty because others can't get their shit together. So good for him. But it's really unheard of, and it shows how deep the problems are.

Is Leterme really resigning because he personally has had enough and wants to do something else? It's presumably at least as much a political decision to put pressure on the negotiations, which seemed to have had the desired effect.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:48 pm UTC

Evengeduld wrote:- You have retards claiming that a split would be a good thing to do. But as said they are retards.


Explain to them that groups of people are like magnets. You have people on two different poles. But no matter how you split them, the new groups of people will still have people on two different poles, just now with a less useful magnet.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

You mean that after a split half of Flanders will start speaking French?

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Dark567 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:20 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:But why should Germany support that? Belgium might be the only country with widespread support for a federal Europe. For the rest of Europe, the ideal is mostly to have as little federalism as can be made workable.
Hey that sounds suspiciously familiar to the idea of another federation on the other side of the Atlantic....
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:12 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:You mean that after a split half of Flanders will start speaking French?


No, just that there will be something new to fight about and break up over again. People will always find things to squabble about.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Eowiel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Zamfir wrote:You mean that after a split half of Flanders will start speaking French?


No, just that there will be something new to fight about and break up over again. People will always find things to squabble about.


People haven't yet founded a world government and neither do all nations devolve into ever smaller parts. People don't split up over every small disagreement but at some point the differences can become so big that there is no added value in staying together.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Qaanol » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:01 am UTC

wee free kings

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:24 am UTC

Well, crap. There goes the leading light of the Eurozone economy.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:28 am UTC

What do you mean?

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby big boss » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:What do you mean?


AFAIK Belgium had the highest GDP growth rate in the Eurozone without a government and his implication being that the growth will stop due to government bureaucracy and such.
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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:16 pm UTC

Yeah, what big boss said. I was feeling flippant ;) I didn't actually want Belgium to never get a government!

In other flippant news, does this mean that Belgian MPs now get to sleep with their wives again? I seem to remember there was a suggested sex-ban a while ago.

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby johnny_7713 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:15 pm UTC

big boss wrote:
Zamfir wrote:What do you mean?


AFAIK Belgium had the highest GDP growth rate in the Eurozone without a government and his implication being that the growth will stop due to government bureaucracy and such.


Well, there was no (executive branch of) government, but there was certainly still a bureaucracy, which in fact was what was keeping the country running. I guess Sir Humphry was right after all :P

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Re: Belgium might get a government

Postby Zamfir » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:54 pm UTC

In practice only 3 out of 12 cabinet ministers are new. So it's mostly the same people as last week, just at diferent positions.


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