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Author Topic: The Great Belgian Thread  (Read 10238 times)
Insula Dei
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« Reply #100 on: December 06, 2011, 05:45:09 pm »
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Who is the guy falling asleep in front of Elio di Rupo?

That'd be Albert II, King of the Belgians Wink

So he's the first socialist and the first francophone in 30 years, then?

First Socialist in 37 years, first francophone in 32 (Vanden Boeynants was PM for like 6 months in 1978-79).
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #101 on: December 21, 2011, 08:01:07 pm »
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Am I continuing this thread? Maybe I'd better, just because it seems far from certain there won't be another election untill 2014.

Today (thursday) the complete public transport sector and some parts of other sectors are on strike against minister Vincent van Quickenborne's plan to reform the pension system and, mainly, against the way van Quickenborne broke with the tradition of social negotiations preceding major reforms. (Van Quickenborne is a bit of a tool, though he's still widely seen as the brain of the new generation of OpenVLD, which says a lot, really.)

The government shouldn't worry about losing votes to the opposition over this, though, as Belgium must be the among the few EU nations where the main opposition party is telling everybody how they think the government's austerity measures aren't going far enough. Sadly the media will probably continue to fail to actually highlight the N-VA fiscal policies. It's just hilarious and very, very disturbing to see the glee which accompanies the use of sentences like 'everybody is going to hurt' or 'we're all going to have to do with a little less' or 'in the government's plans railway personnel would still be able to retire at 60'.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #102 on: January 18, 2012, 11:35:24 am »
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Today for the first time ever a motion of no confidence was introduced in the Flemish Parliament today against minister Philippe Muyters (N-VA), supported by the complete opposition (OVLD, VB, Groen!, LDD). The motion was caused by an e-mail by Muyters' spokesman wich seemed to suggest a disregard for the power of the parliament. While the motion will probably fail, it also caused all of the majority parties to openly rebuke Muyters and probably will mean on the medium term that Muyters' career will be a dead end. (The incident comes after many previous gaffes and miscommunications by him)

This is somewhat interesting because it definitively rules out Muyters from any significant role in what may very well be the most important political event of 2013: the N-VA's seemingly inevitable  leadership election. The party's current leader, the immensely popular Bart De Wever will most likely resign to run for mayor of Antwerp against the SP.a' Patrick Janssens (who's already secured the support of the CD&V in the city). At the very least this would mean De Wever would have to resign if he manages to win. This WILL throw the N-VA in an existential crisis as the party's frontbench is very, ahem, very thin. (To the point where I'm silently convinced that the party is headed for a significant loss in 2014.)

The 2012 municipal elections already will be crucial regardless, as the N-VA will try to win on the one level that will determine whether the party can consolidate its status as Flanders' first party. To do this they will have to uproot (mostly) the CD&V in as many rural communities as possible, while perhaps also scoring some high-profile victories in the more urban area's.  The local level is very important in deciding how many voters a party can tie to itself, so it will be an entertaining race regardless. (I'm entertaining the possibility of a thread in the other board, but maybe it's still a bit too early for that?)

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Sibboleth
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« Reply #103 on: January 18, 2012, 01:20:01 pm »
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If you're willing to go into some detail, then a thread over at the IE board would be most welcome.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #104 on: January 19, 2012, 05:16:33 pm »
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lolfail, I realize noone on here is really dying to find out about the latest bit of political news from the place you drive trough when you have to go from Amsterdam to Paris, but Muyters now really has outdone himself. Today another mail was leaked to the press which contains an explicit reference to Muyters lying to the parliament on the 2009 Budget, followed by a smiley. (like this 'As you may remember minister Muyters lied (Smiley) in the commision at that date' wtf, wtf, wtf).

This is just borderline hilarious. The guy really has made himself the Rick Perry of Flemish politics. When he became a minister in 2009 I was honestly convinced he was being launched to become De Wever's heir. He had the executive experience, the contacts in the bussinesworld (always important to note that the N-VA is first and foremost a party of corporations), the not-too-nationalist credentials,... and he has thrown all of that away to the point where I'm starting to doubt his survival chances on the no confidence vote next week.

EDIT: All of which begs the question who is going to be the N-VA's next leader. Let's have a brief look at the party's top ranks:

-Geert Bourgeois (Flemish Minister, and basically the party's founder): Last time Bourgeois led the party its ceiling was at 5%. Guy has the electoral appeal of a kitchen sink.
-Jan Jambon (Party 'whip' in the Chamber): Too abrasive, bit of a professional bastard
-Ben Weyts ('Party ideologue'): When about one in two newspaper columns mentioning you refers to you as 'Taliban Ben', you do have a bit of an image problem.
-Frieda Brepoels (MEP): Way too moderate (even slightly 'left' in a typical VU way of being 'left') , I think, also not very charismatic.
-Jan Peumans (President of the Flemish Parliament): The ideal candidate, I think, only 'statesmanlike' figure in the party, but a) too old (looks older than he is and if people I know who know him are to be trusted he's really not all that in shape physically) and b) maybe too moderate. But really, only candidate who I can see as a popular and effective succesor
-Siegfried Bracke: If he's a candidate much amusement will be had. (Let me just say that he has about a hundred mortal flaws).

So that leaves them with the possibility of some relative newcomer trying to claw his or her way up, but the only young politicians with the luggage to do something like that are normally family heirs and the N-VA doesn't have any dynasties (interestingly there is one person who if he had played his cards well troughout the last decade might now conceivably be the heir to the throne of the entire Flemish Movement, Willem-Frederik Schiltz, and he is in parliament for the VLD, lol) 

Other possibility might be some heavyweight crossing over from the public field, but, while this is a bit of a tradition for new ministers and high places on lists, it's unprecedented for the leadership of a major party, I believe.

Anyhow, fun times.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 05:36:22 pm by belgiansocialist »Logged

Insula Dei
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« Reply #105 on: January 30, 2012, 10:04:56 am »
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General Strike Today. Seems like we're headed for a period of social unrest.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #106 on: March 15, 2012, 05:21:34 pm »
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Today the Chamber of Representatives approved a number of changes to the constitution by a 'comfortable' 103-39 margin. The 6 government parties (PS,SP.a,CD&V,cdH,MR,VLD) were joined by the green parties (Ecolo, Groen!) on the Yes-side. The No-side was made up out of N-VA, LDD, VB and FDF.

This is the first step in the Institutional Reform that was at the centre of the 2007-2011 crisis, and it was achieved by some clever scheming and rule-bending on the government side. Especially contested was the government's temporarily de-activating of the clausule of the constitution (Article 195) that determines that the only way to change an article of the constitution is to have it had listed by the previous parliament. Now, the opposition (N-VA, that is) don't mind the government getting rid of that particular article, but the way they only temporarily put it out of play means a hypothetical future N-VA-led government would not be able to directly touch the constitution. (Unless, of course, the current parliament would kindly list Article 195 for revision once more, which it won't do)

The government dodged, to be very cynical, a makor bullet today. With the national news cycle being dominated as it is by Tuesday's tragic bus crash, the opposition didn't dare to start an offensive and the debate was remarkably quiet. To be absolutely fair, they should have rescheduled the vote.

Honestly, the past week has been one big mess on all counts with at least 4 major stories making sure the papers and television didn't know where to look. We had a firebombing on a Shiite Mosque in Anderlecht (Brussels) leaving an imam dead, directly followed by a 'suicide attack' on the Qatari ambassador's caravan outside of the Royal Palace. Then that crazy Bus crash, and now this (though this is in a different ball park, obviously).
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #107 on: March 27, 2012, 11:44:05 am »
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Steven Vanackere (CD&V) is the sort of politician that on paper seems like a future prime minister, yet in practice always is a bit of a disappointment. (Not that that would disqualify him from being PM in the Belgian PR-system).

His tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs was moderately succesful, yet at times also frustratingly focussed on offending noone. As Finance minister he's harvested good press coverage and he's widely seen as the most important Flemish Minister within the cabinet, which the media sometimes refers to as Di Rupo-Vanackere.

Yet at times he manages to make clear that he'll have a very hard time to ever become a really popular leader figure. Today he's in the news with some quotes on a European Policy Council meeting pointing out the separation of parties along linguistical lines as 'the worst mistake in Belgian history' and pleading for a return to a federal constituency. This may all be true (I'd be tempted to agree), but there's no way it'll ever fly within the CD&V elite.

On the other hand, I severely doubt it would be a problem for the average CD&V voter at all, so it still might prove to not be a big deal, even if it bolsters his 'belgicist' credentials.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #108 on: May 03, 2012, 12:02:45 pm »
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So, okay, this thread really just serves for me to vent frustration and little personal observations by now. This means there's no problem with me briefly taking the time to complain about something I suppose most of you will find irrelevant.

One of the traditional events of the Flemish political year is the 'Ijzebedevaart' in late August, which basically is a large outdoor meeting of everyone who's somebody within the Flemish Movement in the shadow of the Ijzermonument in Diksmuide (The Ijzer is the river wich marks the frontline of WWI). It's an opportunity to remember the 'Flemish dead of WWI' and to spew some nationalist rhetoric disguised as 'advice for the political scene'. All of this is very nice and dandy, as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, the historical facts that are supposed to lay at the base of the whole event are a little doubtful (No need to go into the boring details of the matter), but if that's what those people need to be happy,...

Recently however the organising comitee decided to move the event to the 11th of November because 2014-18 is approaching. I happen to be of the conviction that Armistice Day should be an entirely politically neutral event and that it is in very poor taste to politicize it in this way. Especially for a political cause that is so hellishly petty and irrelevant as the Ijzerbedevaart's brand of Nationalism. I'm all for the movement exploring its 'pacifist and social-progressive heritage', but this isn't the way to do it.

Beyond that the eyes of the world will be on Ypres and surroundings in November 2014 and I'm not quite sure the obscene way Flemish Nationalists are appearantly going to try to hijack that occasion will reflect well on the rest of us.

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Insula Dei
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« Reply #109 on: September 05, 2012, 02:06:51 pm »
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Poll from La Libre:

Flanders:

N-VA: 40.1%
SP.a: 13.5%
CD&V: 13.4%
OVLD: 11.5%
VB: 10%
Grn: 7.5%

Brussels:

MR: 23%
PS: 22.3%
Ecolo: 11.9%
FDF: 11.3%
cdH: 8.9%

Wallonia:

PS: 31.4%
MR: 21.1%
cdH: 13.7%
Ecolo: 12.1%
------5%-----
FDF: 1.3%


What can one say?
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« Reply #110 on: September 08, 2012, 06:10:07 am »
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I saw Bart De Wever on Dutch television last week. I didn't recognize him, his weight loss is amazing, 58 kg.

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Insula Dei
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« Reply #111 on: September 08, 2012, 03:43:36 pm »
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I saw Bart De Wever on Dutch television last week. I didn't recognize him, his weight loss is amazing, 58 kg.



Those are rather flattering pictures. De Wever nowadays almost looks sickly, whereas he used to look a lot more presentable in his robust days. I honestly wonder whether it even is healthy to lose that amount of weight on such a short amount of time.
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Sibboleth
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« Reply #112 on: September 08, 2012, 07:11:10 pm »
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If the 'after' photo looks like that one (and you say it's a flattering picture, healthwise? I was thinking of commenting on it earlier) then it's almost always a bad sign.
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