|Picture taken from the European Journalism Centre.|
So.... I got seduced to write my own opinion about it. What started as a simple fun post, has now turned into a slightly political piece of writing.
First of all: yes, I am a Fleming and proud of it, but no, I am not a seperatist, I'm still a Belgian first. My dieing wish is to have a simplified Belgium, with just one federal government, everybody can vote for any party and without seperate regional governments. In that way we safe a lot of tax money (and a lot of time *snicker*).
But nationalist commentator JohanRollez has a point by saying:
The main problem is that there are [...] two communities, that have politically developped in opposite directions. In Wallonia [...] 64.5% [...] for left wing [...] In Flanders, 62.4% [...] for right wing parties.
These are basic and massive ideological differences that block virtually every decision in every political domain. Probably, both [...] have solutions that are suitable for their region - as each region has its specific problems, but they are not applicable for all of Belgium.So I am afraid that my wish is very unrealistic.
As I already mentioned earlier, the The Economist column irritated me especially because of the subtitle: "Why Belgium’s unending linguistic disputes matter to Europe".
|Is Flanders the devil?|
Picture taken from Matt Stone's blog.
Above mentioned JohanRollez gave me a good refreshment as well that both regions (Flanders and Wallonia) have both developed in different ways and bringing those two ideologies together is of course not easy.
Although everybody knows me as a big lover of the 60's era (caveat), I see that the ideological breakup for Belgium starts there. Although the era brought the Dutch version of the constitution, it also brought the breakup of the University of Leuven. In se not a bad thing: a bilingual country should provide education in its people's mother tongue, but that breakup was also the start of breaking up the political parties, the media, ... into a Flemish and a Walloon part.
|Picture taken from RESEDA:|
"The end of mussels and frites?"
As Us Europeans puts it (concerning popular music, but you can see it in a broader picture) :
Only a handful of [Belgian musicians] managed to break through the language barrier to become successful in all of Belgium. [...] Overlappings are fairly rare.which I personally regret as there is never enough good music to share.
Still, even if it is clear that both parts of our country has its own identity, this is not what is standing in our way of forming a government. The problem is indeed the different ideology on both sides: Flanders is striving for a more regional governed Belgium (in order to keep it's tax income for itself) while Wallonia wants to protect the current subsidies of the federal government (fearing that it's own tax income won't be sufficient). Both sides can't be completely satisfied at the same time, this is impossible and so again, a comprimise has to be sought.
|Comprimise: Wallanders and Flallony|
Screenshot taken from Cafe Babel
There are some very interesting comments to the column. I have already mentioned (three times?) JohanRollez's comment about the (general) difference in ideology. One of my favourite simple remarks is the one that Swedane rightly mentions:
if Belgium cannot (or will not) stay united how do we expect a European Union of 27 individual states with 23 languages [...] to work?There is discussion about this topic, but I prefer Swedane his way of thinking. In the original column, Charlemagne writes:
Changing national borders only rarely resolves nationalist and ethnic disputes. Where communities overlap, tolerance, minority rights, autonomy and cross-border co-operation are better democratic tools.This has crossed my mind as well, imagine that we would separate Belgium, after a while the people from Antwerp won't want to live with those in Limburg and we can keep on cutting, I am sure we will always find our differences.
Just one more thing: Charlemagne, please do not compare the Belgian political problem with Spain or Italy where, quoting you, "rich regions [are] pulling away from poorer ones".
As you are referring, for example, to a certain political movement of Catalunya: that is a total different scenario. I am moving on very thin ice now as my knowledge is very limited in this field and I hope not to insult Catalan people, but the usage of their language català, was strongly discouraged until the death of Franco in 1975. Therefore, I can imagine that language is an issue in Catalonia (in contrast to Belgium).