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coloniac
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« Reply #50 on: June 19, 2017, 02:17:07 pm »

BIG NEWS FROM THE MOST BORING COUNTRY IN EUROPE SINCE 2014

The centrist Cdh party has decided to ditch the PS in favour of forming new majorities in both Wallonia and Brussels. The collapse of the Walloon government means an MR-cdH-ECOLO government without any elections being formed. Brussels is more complicated, especially with Défi condeming the move.

https://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_le-cdh-lache-le-ps-le-mr-dispose-a-dialoguer-sur-l-avenir-des-entites-federees?id=9637984

So far the PS are keeping a low profile but I imagine they will protest the fact that new election were not called or that MR do not have a democratic mandate. I for one would have loved to vote again EDIT : turns out the law has fixed terms now.

PTB#s Raoul Hedebouw has said that it is utter hypocrisy leaving the PS of Samusocial (and Publifin) [the corruption scandals that rocked Brussels and Liege respectively] to go join MR who have their own corruption scandal in the form of "Kazakhgate".

Défi have said that this is a political ploy by the Cdh to still stay relevant in the political field and try to ride on the back of anti-political sentiment. Both they and Cdh are two formations trying to vie for the MacronMania in France and "clean up the political class", but Défi insist the corruption was only in the Brussels-City government and not Brussels-region, and that Cdh was an active participant.

EDIT : confirmed by the fixed parliaments rule that we will have MR led governments.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 05:23:59 pm by Rogier »Logged
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« Reply #51 on: June 19, 2017, 08:09:41 pm »

And the next election takes place together with the next federal election in 2019, right?
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coloniac
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« Reply #52 on: June 20, 2017, 03:51:26 am »

And the next election takes place together with the next federal election in 2019, right?

Our next regional elections will be held with the federals in 2019, but I predict that if there is a blockage on the Brussels level, then they will make an exception and we will have our regional elections with our communal ones. Most of the corruption scandals have to do with politicians having up to 15 jobs, some in state-funded charities. In Brussels this is particularly the case as we have 19 communes to go with a bloated regional government.

De Wever has already had a pop at the number of public servants in Brussels (despite Antwerp having more per capita). But now even the francophone politicians are saying it would make sense to merge some of the powers the communes have with the Brussels-regional government. 2018 elections would be the best time to do that.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 03:54:49 am by Rogier »Logged
coloniac
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« Reply #53 on: June 20, 2017, 04:26:17 am »

Update : the noises coming out of Cdh grandees (or what remains of them) tell us that this has little to do with the corruption scandal and everything to do with PS trying hard to compete with PTB by implementing a Robin Hood style hard left platform.
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coloniac
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« Reply #54 on: June 24, 2017, 09:48:21 am »

CdH president Lutgen was at Brussels Parliament today to talk to the potential actors for a coalition there. The numbers mean Défi is "unavoidable" and effective king maker in any coalition in both Brussels and Federation Wallonia-Brussels. Together with ecolo (in what is being called the Watermelon clique) they have released a series of demands in terms of governance to the traditional parties, that includes the resignation of several high profile traditional party politicians.

Here are the potential coalitions :

At the Walloon regional level, MR+cdH has a 1 seat majority. This is significant because Wallonia could still easily reject something as high profile as the CETA agreement given cdH members can have links to the agricultural lobby, and PS will for sure vote against it in opposition to counter PTB.
 But I think Blue Orange will be the eventual outcome. cdH will still vote on the budget with PS then vote in the replacement MR-cdH government.

Brussels + the Federation is up to Défi. Either the centre-right coalition, although I believe the personal relations between Défi and MR are so bad that this won't last long. Or Défi invites ecolo to form a government with a PS that promises to hand them the keys to governance reform, as well as a clear run at MR in South Brussels during the locals, to make Défi the only liberal alternative. The only stumbling block I see with the last solution is that ecology will want groen in government, and the Flemish parties in Brussels will want to preserve their own majority. They've been surprisingly quiet.


The really -unlikely but entirely possible in this country scenario is MR-PS taking power and leaving all the others out to "reform" the place themselves. cdH has already said that they had thought of this and realised that it would still benefit them more then staying in coalition with PS. This was really a last ditch attempt for cdH to stay relevant in the political field and it could backfire spectacularly.

PS president Do Rupo has not resigned. Maybe they are waiting for 2018 for him to ride out the electoral defeat at the locals, then let the civil war start.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 11:27:08 am by Rogier »Logged
coloniac
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« Reply #55 on: July 01, 2017, 04:12:16 am »

New poll. PTB largest party in Wallonia. But overall I think we are finally headed for the kind of electoral balkanisation seen in Flanders + Netherlands. MR being the largest party in Bxl with only 20% says as much.

'14 is last election.
'17 is now.



No real change in Flanders, apart from SP.A suffering due to being seen as PS-collaborators.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 04:16:14 am by Rogier »Logged
coloniac
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« Reply #56 on: July 03, 2017, 10:08:21 am »

PS have had their congress (that was originally scheduled to be the night where Lutgen betrayed them) and it seems they have not gone for total job "decumulation". This major scandal in Belgian politics throughout the years is one that French posters will be all too familiar with. Politicians being supermen capable of holding a large mayoralty, a deputy and also be a major actors in several non-profit organisations, resulting in sometimes up to 15 mandates. Bart De Wever for example is a president of the largest party, a mayor of Flanders' largest city and a member of the federal parliament but hasn't asked a single question or submitted an amendment :

https://www.cumuleo.be/mandataire/11423-bart-de-wever.php

And he is by no means the only one.

The PS is the worst offender, because of their aforementioned link to advocacy democracy and the man who was at the origin of "cleaning" the most corrupt wing of the PS in Charleroi, Paul Magnette, along with the Youth wing, had heavily lobbied Di Rupo to push forward a total decumulation. But the PS small mayors and councillors have watered the wine so to speak, and put restrictions on. Now only mayors of big cities or communes (50,000+) will have to choose between their mayoralty or their ministerial/parliamentary position. This is interesting as both Magnette (Charleroi) and Di Rupo (Mons) will have to choose between their city or their other positions.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2017, 05:26:49 am by coloniac »Logged
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« Reply #57 on: July 04, 2017, 01:17:11 pm »

Why is the MR so strong in Brussel-Hoofdstad? Suburbanites?
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coloniac
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« Reply #58 on: July 04, 2017, 02:27:42 pm »

Why is the MR so strong in Brussel-Hoofdstad? Suburbanites?

They're really strong in South Brussels, which has high income suburbs. Uccle, the Woluwes, parts of Forest, Watermael-Bosvoorde. I was gonna do some big posts but here's an indication with some semi-accurate map:






They are actually traditionally strong there anyway, as Brussels has quite a liberal tradition. ULB was their pillar university for example, and it does not have the left-wing tradition of Liège. They just really screwed up in the early 2000s partly because of the merger with FDF, which was supposed to make Brussels an MR stronghold, but instead some dissident MR wanted to clash with FDF mayors (like hard right Destexhe vs FDF "pragmatist" Gosuin in Auderghem), and there were also FDF members who were displeased with joint MR-Open Vld lists as they consider the VLD to be flamingant. So yeah, MR were their own worst enemy in Brussels and let PS dominate until now. After that though MR-FDF was an extremely effective alliance in BHV, as I detailed in a post in the 2014 election thread. 

After their split, the Brussels communes FDF/Défi beat MR in were ones where they had prominent mayors (Gosuin in Auderghem, Maingain in Woluwe-Saint-Lambrechts, Clerfayt in Schaerbeek, which is becoming a yuppie district). Otherwise I would say the MR vote held up well.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2017, 03:20:17 pm by Rogier »Logged
coloniac
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« Reply #59 on: July 07, 2017, 03:49:11 am »

Some profiles of PTB and Défi I have written to complete the set. Will do a post on the francophone hard to far right and then get stuck in with the data I found on communal elections, since that is the next election.

 
Défi – Democrats, Federalists, Independent

Défi, formely FDF (for first Front Démocratique Francophone then Féderalistes Démocratiques Francophones), is arguably the most controversial party to characterise. Depending on the linguistic and cultural background of the scholars, you will find this party described as an “anti-Flemish party” or as a “Brussels regional interests” party (depending usually on the mother tongue of the author). I would say both are false, or at least based on previous incarnations of candidates with the FDF tag (read up on Roger Nols and his extremist wing of the party during its early years).

It is not an anti-Flemish party in the sense that it does not, as is commonly said in Flamingant milieux, question the bilingual nature of Brussels, or Belgium, nor the rights of the Flemish minority in the capital, although it does question their over-representation in the parliament. Nor is a Brussels regionalist party since its current stated goal is the merger of Brussels and Wallonia into one federation. This is seen as a way to potentially counter Flemish jurisdiction in Brussels (Flanders merged their Community and Regional government, and put the parliament in Brussels). FDF/Défi also espouse a somewhat irredentist idea of expanding Brussels jurisdiction across its periphery. This would in turn create a legal pathway for Brussels to form a part of what is left of Belgium should the Flemish polity one day separate.

It is a blatant community interests party, with that community being francophones in Brussels and its periphery, and have now turned their strategy to transforming this into some kind of national Francophone solidarity to stubbornly oppose Flemish nationalism at all costs. This communitarian aspect was particularly salient in the “glory” days of Brussels politics, when Vlaams Belang and FDF militants would fight pitched battles in football stands or on the streets. FDF in particular had a carpetbagger and all round racist Roger Nols, who would segregate ballot boxes in Schaerbeek as “Francophone, Flemish, Immigrant” and organise descents on Flamingants militants as far away as Voeren/Fourons. He would later join the PRL and then the Belgian FN, his natural habitat.

Regardless, the FDF eventually merged with the MR, but kept its quasi-feudal links with its support base in Brussels enough for MR to win BHV several times. Its split with MR over the 6th state reform led it to reform as a party looking to replaced cdH as the centrist but stubborn communitarian force in Wallonia-Brussels. It only succeeded in Brussels, and as we will see this is directly correlated with where they hold powerful local candidates. With 19 mayors in addition to the regional government, Brussels politics can be very feudal.

Ideology
As a fully independent party competing across the francophone constituencies, Défi made an effort to construct an economic platform, that they call social liberalism as opposed to MR’s “neo-liberalism”. They also emphasise investment in education and public services rather than what they see as “keeping ineffecient industries alive”. It had some good ideas, and I voted for this on a regional level partly because in Brussels there is a massive education and subsequent youth unemployment issue. But in Wallonia its probably scoffed at or seen as “Brussels blue sky liberalism”. On a broader level they are basically the Dupont to MR’s Dupond though.

On social issues, they are social liberal these days. Immigration is not even mentioned in their issues, but public security is. They were the first to present a Congolese candidate in Brussels, but they also had Nols and a hard right ethno-nationalist faction in the old days. With the MR merger and Maingain’s hegemony in the party, this has all but evaporated. What Défi (or at least Maingain) have tried to emphasise recently though is a conversion to French laicité from Belgian neutralité of the state, and a defunding of religion.

On Belgium, you can guess by their name and what I told you. They also clearly want to create a Francophone political consciousness the same way the Flemish nationalists have. And they are outspoken European Federalists.
Strongholds


(note that the 0.1 scale is 10%)

Brussels, specifically the communes where their heavyweights are mayors and are popular figures.  Both Woluwés (Maingain), Auderghem (Gosuin) and Schaerbeek (Clerfayt), are where they beat the competing MR outright. They also poll well in places like Ixelles, Watermael-Boisfort, and of course Brussels’ periphery. Scored well in Rhode-Saint-Genèse, for example, one of the more controversial periphery communes as it links Brussels to Wallonia and is majority French-speaking.
Défi completely failed in their bid to enter the Walloon electoral market, although they got semi-decent scores in Brabant Wallon due to the proximity with the Brussels issues. The cartel with Cdh could have done them some favours, but Défi have some real characters in their Walloon ranks, from a libertarian in Liège to some far right elements in Charleroi. Walloons don’t seem to “get” Défi. They’re not alone. But Maingain’s presence in the media as kingmaker of the French Community is doing his party a few favours in the South.

Key figures

Défi’s politics are dominated by its three amigos in mayoral positions. The first, Olivier Maingain, is by far the most powerful and the one with the biggest mediatic presence, and a pariah for Flamingants north of the border (he is nicknamed “Duivel”). He runs the party quite dictatorially. He accounts for the popularity in Woluwé-Saint-Lambert, as mayor in absentia. His wing is progressive-right, emphasising the role of social justice, and he was the one who decided boldly to join MR, and to split from it.

The second, Bernard Clerfayt, is mayor of Schaerbeek and known for both his technocratic and reconciliatory style. He is much more old school liberal MR, although his father was a pillar of the old FDF. Clerfayt has good relations with Didier Reynders in particular and is a vocal critic of the coalition with PS on the Brussels level. He ousted the PS from Schaerbeek with a Défi-Cdh-ECOLO coalition that he called “the future for francophone Belgium”.

The third, Didier Gosuin, is a minister in the Brussels government and Mayor in absentia of Auderghem. He calls himself a pragmatist and above ideological divides.





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coloniac
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« Reply #60 on: July 07, 2017, 03:54:28 am »

PTB/PVDA – Parti du Travail de Belgique – Partij Van De Arbeid (Workers Party of Belgium)

The PTB’s meteoric rise in the South of the country has attracted headlines beyond our borders. As the only unitary party in Belgium, many people joke now that it is “a party for Walloons that is founded and (still) run by intellectual Flemings”. As discussed before, the PVDA/PTB used to be under the direction of a Maoist then Stalinist core and emerged as a critic of the Communist Party of Belgium’s “revisionist” turn. You can see in Nanwe’s maps the the PCB was semi-successful in Hainaut and Liege-Province but their Eurocommunist turn eventually got squeezed by a notoriously eclectic PS. The PTB only really emerged as a serious force when it decided to abandon strange alliances and endless debates over revisionism and Cold War history in 2008, during its 8th party congress. It started adopting the broad ideas of Chantalle Mouffe, with their new leader Peter Martens arguing for a more serious approach to smaller social struggles. This happened conveniently at the time of the financial crisis. Since then there’s obviously been a demand for a leftist protest party and the PTB have slowly found their way by a combination of effective local campaigning and the anti-political sentiment

Ideology

I would say PTB-PVDA are closer to the Greek KKE than say Syriza, judging by their common membership of the International Communist Seminar. They still are somewhat committed to core Marxist-Leninist ideals, but given the success of the latter formation in Greek politics, as well as Podemos and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, they have had to tone it down. Instead, the Walloon PTB focus on setting up food banks, parallel insurance schemes, etc as a sort of counter-weight to the breakdown of pillars and state protection. Their slogan became “people first, not profit”, emphasising a more human approach to their socialist brand, focusing on smaller struggles to build their “proletariat” force for revolution.

PTB-PVDA remain eurocritical but less so than SP and France Insoumise, instead promoting the social Europe over what they see as a neo-liberal EU Commission. On social issues, they are much less Workerist than their Dutch counterparts in the SP, which also means they attract far more cosmopolitan types. They’ve also focused immigration issues on social dumping rather than Islam, and have been very effective at capturing the non-racist anti-globalist “Belgian work for Belgian” types as a result. But it might be a smokescreen.

They are one of the few unitary parties in Belgium and believe that certain levels of government should be eliminated and that institutional “plumbing” is a diversion by bourgeois nationalist politics.   

Electoral strongholds

Starting with their traditional hunting ground, Wallonia, PTB are obviously very effective at challenging the PS in depressed urban industrial zones, particularly in the outskirts of cities like Liège. Places like Seraing, Herstal, Bressoux, with very low income housing. This where they finished second to the PS in previous elections. They do less well in Hainaut, with is more small-c conservative and has a less revolutionary culture than Liège, as well as competing with the far right in Charleroi. We still might see a breakout there and some rural parts of Luxemburg-Province and Namur that are depressed. I think that the 2019 map will look very different as the PTB’s previous success was more due to their local presence.

In Flanders, you will notice that they do well in docker-areas of Antwerp, and north of Gent in Zelzate where there is an Arcelor Mittal-factory. PVDA managed to get councillors elected there from the unions and the medical service they provide, and build their way up. They also did very well in Genk in the last municipal elections, but surprisingly poor in student areas.
(remember to look at the scales..PVDA's bright red maximum is 11% compared to PTB's 21%.

In Brussels, they do very well in the Canal Zone with 2nd or 3rd generation immigrant communities reside. The Arab areas are sympathetic due to their anti-imp rhetoric and solidarity with Palestine, while the Turkish community in Saint-Josse tend to side more with the PS because of Emir Kir, who is basically their local voice. We’ll only really see how the PS vote holds up against PTB and ecolo in the next election though, but I imagine the Turks will stick with PS or go to a party in the same mould as DENK in the NL (please no).


  Key figures

Peter Martens in the President of the party and the most well-known figure in Flanders, and particularly in Antwerp. He was a key architect of the transition from hard debates over theoretical Marxist-Leninism/Maoism to a focus on relevant social issues like pensions, indexation, etc. His book has become a best seller in Flanders, but he remains relatively unknown in Wallonia-Brussels.

Raoul Hedebouw on the other hand has become a household name on both sides of the linguistic border. The son of Limburgish workers who moved to Liège when he was a child, he incarnates both the workerist and cosmopolitan sides that the PTB try to keep together. His command of both languages, straight-talking style, use of sarcastic humour, and at time conveying genuine outrage towards the political class makes him a favourite with the left-wing audience. As well as being party spokesman on a national level, he is also in the opposition of the Liège council and a federal parliamentarian.

Their other federal parliamentarian includes the deputy Marco van Hees, who was a public servant for the Belgian tax collector and adds credibility as a technocratic voice.

There is surprisingly little factionalism inside the PTB-PVDA for the moment as they feel the wind is in their sails. PTB’s attempts however to ally the myriad of francophone left-wing socialist parties into a French-style Left Front (with PCB, the Ligue Communiste Révolutionaire and other parties, under the PTB-GO!, failed somewhat as a concept.  What PTB tend to do though is “open” their lists to other parties from the Left.

The key question though will be: if the PTB does reach the dizzy heights of 20-25% in Wallonia and Brussels, will it ally with PS (and ecolo) to form a hard left government, or will it remain a purely opposition-based party? Undoubtedly some the compromises they would have to make with a PS may drive older cadres outside the party, but on the other hand the PS could do with shifting to the left and then fighting the PTB on the issue of competence rather than ideology.
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coloniac
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« Reply #61 on: July 11, 2017, 04:44:24 am »

A few updates :
Today is the Flemish National Day and traditionally the First-Minister of Flanders gives a speech in Courtrai/Kortrijk (where the battle of Golden Spurs took place) the day before. Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) put the communitarian issues back on the agenda, particularly as he recently commissioned the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) to do a study on the amount of transfers Wallonia receives from Flanders. He’s now explicitly called for a 7th state reform, although I can’t see how the N-VA will ever be allowed near negotiations on institutional reform by the francophone parties. This also comes as two N-VA defectors who were unhappy with the decision to enter a purely socio-economic and non-communitarian deal with the other parties are given an award for services to Flemish Emancipation. It shows the pressure parts of the nationalist civilian organs are putting on the N-VA, no doubt also emboldened by Assemblea in Catalunya pushing through the referendum.
EDIT : here below is a guest list of a Flemish nationalist event today



As a reminder, VB are seen to have a cordon sanitaire around them, so this doesn't look good for N-VA. I imagine Catalan nationalists wouldn't want their flag next to the Taal Aktie Komitee either.


An Open VLD member was caught going to an expensive Thai hotel full of hookers, made famous by The Hangover, all at the tax payer’s expense. He’s stepped aside but VLD president Rutten defended him. It is more of a sign of how the political class are now under intense scrutiny, than a genuine scandal.

Benoit Lutgen (Cdh) appears to have announced the collapse of the rouge-romaine PS-Cdh coalition without informing MR, Défi, Ecolo, and even some of his own party members, particularly in Brussels. There’s talk that the Brussels wing of the Cdh (whose strongwoman Joelle Milquet is very close to Di Rupo) might even go against party order and maintain the PS in power. But Lutgen appears to have demonstrated some degree of political amateurism by only starting negotiations after his announcement. At the same time, it hopefully ends the culture of behind closed door deals.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 05:30:53 pm by Rogier »Logged
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« Reply #62 on: July 11, 2017, 12:23:45 pm »

New poll. PTB largest party in Wallonia. But overall I think we are finally headed for the kind of electoral balkanisation seen in Flanders + Netherlands. MR being the largest party in Bxl with only 20% says as much.

'14 is last election.
'17 is now.



No real change in Flanders, apart from SP.A suffering due to being seen as PS-collaborators.


not really politically correct word
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coloniac
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« Reply #63 on: July 12, 2017, 02:02:24 am »

Nice WaPo article written by (disclaimer lol) an Antwerper living in Brussels. It touches somewhat upon the neo-feudal nature of the Brussels political scene though.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/10/want-to-understand-belgiums-complicated-politics-and-scandals-lets-look-at-africa/
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« Reply #64 on: July 12, 2017, 12:36:31 pm »


This sure doesn't look like a cordon sanitaire to me...
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« Reply #65 on: July 14, 2017, 07:40:32 pm »

A few updates :
Today is the Flemish National Day and traditionally the First-Minister of Flanders gives a speech in Courtrai/Kortrijk (where the battle of Golden Spurs took place) the day before. Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) put the communitarian issues back on the agenda, particularly as he recently commissioned the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) to do a study on the amount of transfers Wallonia receives from Flanders. He’s now explicitly called for a 7th state reform, although I can’t see how the N-VA will ever be allowed near negotiations on institutional reform by the francophone parties. This also comes as two N-VA defectors who were unhappy with the decision to enter a purely socio-economic and non-communitarian deal with the other parties are given an award for services to Flemish Emancipation. It shows the pressure parts of the nationalist civilian organs are putting on the N-VA, no doubt also emboldened by Assemblea in Catalunya pushing through the referendum.
EDIT : here below is a guest list of a Flemish nationalist event today



As a reminder, VB are seen to have a cordon sanitaire around them, so this doesn't look good for N-VA. I imagine Catalan nationalists wouldn't want their flag next to the Taal Aktie Komitee either.


An Open VLD member was caught going to an expensive Thai hotel full of hookers, made famous by The Hangover, all at the tax payer’s expense. He’s stepped aside but VLD president Rutten defended him. It is more of a sign of how the political class are now under intense scrutiny, than a genuine scandal.

Benoit Lutgen (Cdh) appears to have announced the collapse of the rouge-romaine PS-Cdh coalition without informing MR, Défi, Ecolo, and even some of his own party members, particularly in Brussels. There’s talk that the Brussels wing of the Cdh (whose strongwoman Joelle Milquet is very close to Di Rupo) might even go against party order and maintain the PS in power. But Lutgen appears to have demonstrated some degree of political amateurism by only starting negotiations after his announcement. At the same time, it hopefully ends the culture of behind closed door deals.



Yeah, what's with the Catalan independentist flags there? There aren't any Catalan speakers invited, and while they both think that Flanders/Catalonia should be independent, VB's brand of independentism is fundamentally different from ERC's (a lot closer to the Scottish SNP) or even PDECat's (conservative, but far from "alt-right", just mainstream conservatives)
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coloniac
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« Reply #66 on: July 15, 2017, 02:43:19 am »

A few updates :
Today is the Flemish National Day and traditionally the First-Minister of Flanders gives a speech in Courtrai/Kortrijk (where the battle of Golden Spurs took place) the day before. Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) put the communitarian issues back on the agenda, particularly as he recently commissioned the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) to do a study on the amount of transfers Wallonia receives from Flanders. He’s now explicitly called for a 7th state reform, although I can’t see how the N-VA will ever be allowed near negotiations on institutional reform by the francophone parties. This also comes as two N-VA defectors who were unhappy with the decision to enter a purely socio-economic and non-communitarian deal with the other parties are given an award for services to Flemish Emancipation. It shows the pressure parts of the nationalist civilian organs are putting on the N-VA, no doubt also emboldened by Assemblea in Catalunya pushing through the referendum.
EDIT : here below is a guest list of a Flemish nationalist event today



As a reminder, VB are seen to have a cordon sanitaire around them, so this doesn't look good for N-VA. I imagine Catalan nationalists wouldn't want their flag next to the Taal Aktie Komitee either.


An Open VLD member was caught going to an expensive Thai hotel full of hookers, made famous by The Hangover, all at the tax payer’s expense. He’s stepped aside but VLD president Rutten defended him. It is more of a sign of how the political class are now under intense scrutiny, than a genuine scandal.

Benoit Lutgen (Cdh) appears to have announced the collapse of the rouge-romaine PS-Cdh coalition without informing MR, Défi, Ecolo, and even some of his own party members, particularly in Brussels. There’s talk that the Brussels wing of the Cdh (whose strongwoman Joelle Milquet is very close to Di Rupo) might even go against party order and maintain the PS in power. But Lutgen appears to have demonstrated some degree of political amateurism by only starting negotiations after his announcement. At the same time, it hopefully ends the culture of behind closed door deals.



Yeah, what's with the Catalan independentist flags there? There aren't any Catalan speakers invited, and while they both think that Flanders/Catalonia should be independent, VB's brand of independentism is fundamentally different from ERC's (a lot closer to the Scottish SNP) or even PDECat's (conservative, but far from "alt-right", just mainstream conservatives)

N-VA's liberals are actually very close to Convergencia . Bourgeois and Puidgemont sometimes go on lobbying trips together like the failed one in Morroco.

But yeah, in this case its the N-VA's hard-liners, VBers and some really dodgy groups like the Taal Actie Komitee (that overlap with a group called Voorpost...google them). And they are giving out Catalan flags...

The real problem though is how nobody in Flanders batted an eyelid, only the Brussels-based media picked it up because some brown-shirt worshipers were throwing a party on the streets. The banalisation of the far right in the Lowlands has almost reached the point where I think N-VA/VB majorities may be used in the next local elections.


In other news, it looks increasingly likely that we are going to have MR-Cdh in Wallonia and the maintaining of the current majority in Brussels (PS-Cdh-Défi-Flemish tripartite). At the Federation level (the Francophone Community), there could be a unity government of the two regions (PS-MR-Cdh-Défi). This mess is due to ECOLO and Défi refusing to dance to Lutgen's tune. 

Its almost as if the francophone political class want PTB to destroy them next election.
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« Reply #67 on: July 29, 2017, 07:01:14 am »

SOme stuff happened last week, with the culmination being the formation of the new Walloon government yesterday.

On 21/07 there was the Belgian national day where we celebrate the few things that unite us : the Royalty – yuck -, fries, regional inferiority complexes, the realisation that we do indeed still have an army that doesn’t just patrol train stations and political controversy. Previous occasions have usually been rather embarrassing for Flemish politicians in particular, most notably for CD&V Prime Minister Yves Leterme who sung the French national anthem when asked for the Belgian one.

This time though it was up to the Walloons to cause the controversy in the proceedings by…not showing up. Paul Magnette was still de jure Minister-President of Wallonia but clearly he felt it would be embarrassing for him and the PS if they had gone. As a result, the MR-cdH coalition is now a done deal and all they have just had the official vote in parliament to swear in the next government, led by Willy Borsu (MR), before going on holiday.

The deficit in talent is due to MR already having a lot of their best people at the federal level, with Borsus the only one being drafted in from that level. But the vast majority of reforms will not be economic but about governance. They include :

-   Removal of the Provincial elected chambers. The ten provinces of Belgium are arguably more historically accurate faultlines than the regional divide. But their competences are so weak that it makes no sense to keep them given the 5 other layers of government.

-    200 administratif posts less

-   Help with first house ownership

-   A few other tax breaks as expected of a right-of-centre government.

-   Also interesting to the psephologists amongst you, the introduction of a Walloon-wide electoral constituency that will send 10 directly elected MPs to the parliament.  




Borsus (left) and Magnette (right)

I tend to agree with Magnette’s surprisingly objective criticism : the measures don’t go far enough to justify a genuine change of government just 2 years before an election and the subsequent political crisis this could cause, with Brussels and Wallonia now out of sync and the Federation under threat. As such it is a “waste” of alternative government. Still, this kind of rhetoric is vanilla compared to Di Rupo and the rest of the PS, who used blatant fearmongering to win in 2010.

Magnette himself has indicated that he will choose his mayoral post at Wallonia’s most populous city of Charleroi over his mandate in the Walloon parliament. No surprise there. The question is whether Magnette will try to take control of the behemoth that is the Walloon PS when Di Rupo eventually resigns.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 09:11:07 am by coloniac »Logged
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« Reply #68 on: August 06, 2017, 02:47:59 pm »

The far right in Wallonia


You may have noticed that amidst the scandals and corruption, Wallonia still has no credible support for a party to the Right of MR, who sit in the ALDE group of the European Parliament and is generally a lighter version of the Open Vld or Dutch VVD. This is despite Wallonia neighbouring regions with similar socio-economic realities (Dutch Limburg, Nord-Pas-De-Calais in France) that have strong right-wing populist party presence (PVV and FN respectively). I already discussed this here in DavidB’s Dutch thread :

Possibly heading off-topic, but why is it that Flanders has a heavy amount of populist-rightism, but Wallonia doesn't?

A few factors i can think of :

1/ No Walloon identity. You will find it hard to find anyone who responds ''Walloon'' when you ask them where you are from here. Completely different to Flanders, which is a homogeous nation. Very little ethnic nationalism, Walloons seem to me to be adherents to the moderate Castillan ''poquito nacion'' concept of only caring about your close environment rather than grandiose forms of nationalism.

2/ Previous "Front National" was a total shambles and dissolved before it could ride on the "Bleu Marine" wave (which is popular here in Belgium, more than you think). Its successors were ''La Droite'' (mainstream new right but claims to be the equivalent of the French centre-right, which is essentially political suicide in Wallonia), Parti Populaire (Wilders-esque rank and file populism with Modrikamen as their cult leader, anti-Islam), Debout Les Belges (Laurent Louis leading the anti-Zionist charge). Basically they are too busy arguing who to hate more (muslims or jews) to form a united ''New Right'' party with at least a degree of sane rhetoric a la Wilders, Le Pen.

3/ In many ways, Walloons who lost out due to globalisation realise that the problem wasn't European integration (that if anything preserved their coal and steel industries), but global capitalism as whole. The conservative right-wing parties like Partie Populaire are openly free market liberals.

4/ Masterful politicking by the de facto party of government, PS, who play any Walloon inferiority complex to a tee on the federal level.


So the reality is that Wallonia probably does an electoral void that could be filled by a party to the Right of MR, especially as they ready themselves to take on governmental responsibilities in the region. But the political figures were either too egotistical or incompetent. The recent alternative was the Parti Populaire, founded by Rudy Aernoudt, a Flemish lawyer who wanted to reform Belgian’s political system on the basis of preserving liberal democracy, and Miskael Modrikamen, a Brussels-based lawyer who wanted a party to the right of MR.

The clash of egos between the two that eventually led to Modrikamen taking full command of the party hides the real differences within the Walloon “hard”, conservative right:
 
•   should they stick up for a Belgian identity and federalism (Aernoudt) or merely for “francophone” interests in the form of confederalism (Modrikamen)?

•   Should they collaborate with Flemish nationalism (Modrikamen, who wanted to ally with the N-VA) or oppose it (Aernoudt, who wanted a federal voting district to compete with the N-VA)

•   Should they present themselves as a defender of liberal democracy and an alternative to MR (Aernoudt) or a platform for protest voters who vote “one time ECOLO, another for the Belgian National Front [which is a ridiculously unfounded statement], conservatives and traditionalists who only reluctantly vote for MR” (Modrikamen)

Add to their inevitable split was also the fact that their only federal elected official, Laurent Louis, ended up founding his own right-wing anti-Semite conspiracy theorist party, Debout Les Belges, calling then PM Di Rupo a paedophile, splitting the PP vote and eventually joining the ISLAM party of Brussels. The marginal Walloon hard to far right in 2014 thus was confronted with a split as to who posed the greater threat: “Zionists” or “Islamists” (read : Jews or brown people), an echo chamber with little room for any serious policy debate, and an underwhelming score. Although, to be fair to the PP, some of their manifesto had some propositions ahead of its time on governance, the people it attracted were just too hilariously insane to be taken seriously by its potential electorate.

Their only Walloon parliamentarian, André-Pierre Puget, eventually joined a party called La Droite, now La Droite Citoyenne, that has a more vanilla and less immigration-based brand of right-wing populism, and seem to be keeping a low profile compared to the now struggling PP. La Droite was an idea of controversial businessman Aldo-Michel Mungo, who like Modrikamen is known for his ruthless, ego-centred approach to his own party. Inevitable clashes with his only parliamentarian (on the issue of immigration again) led Puget to sit as an independent, and is currently voting with MR and Cdh to bolster their new majority from one seat to two.

Some other micro-parties, usually surrounding one personality and their ambition to become Belgium’s answer to France’s Bleu Marine movement. And some other peculiar figures like Phillipe Chansay-Wilmotte, a man who used to work in international law and claim to have experienced first hand the “Islamic plot against Europe” when dealing with Arab clients. Some of his facebook posts are priceless :



As for their traditional European far right, the “Belgian FN” ended up splitting three ways, largely again based on personality politics and whether to sympathise with the French Bleu Marine FN or the dissident ultra-nationalists and Neo-Nazis.  All in all, the Walloon far right is an absolute shambles, and failed to seize their opportunity the same way the neighbouring regions did.
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« Reply #69 on: August 10, 2017, 11:05:48 pm »

Why is the Worker's Party doing so well in Wallonia as they seem way out on the left.  I am not an expert on Belgian politics, but would it be fair to say Flanders leans right and Wallonia leans left as it seems the left tends to win big there and right big in Flanders.  Mind you the Christian Democrats seem fairly centrist so not sure if you would call the CDH or CD&V as right wing parties and likewise Open VLD and Reformist Movement are labeled centre-right, but they same like Belgium's version of the Democrats of the US, Liberal Party of Canada, or Liberal Democrats of UK in terms of where they stand on the political spectrum as opposed to a more market liberal party like the VVD in the Netherlands.  Otherwise correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is they are more like the D66 than VVD.  Also with the Worker's Party doing well any particular reason or is like France with Melenchon and UK with Corbyn you have a lot of dissatisfied younger voters who are attracted to hard left policies without fully understanding them.  Anyone know?
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« Reply #70 on: August 11, 2017, 11:22:06 am »

Why is the Worker's Party doing so well in Wallonia as they seem way out on the left.

Tl;dr : its because of PS corruption putting voters off the political class after their 26-year hegemony starting to fade.

The Workers Party’s initial success is compared to the N-VA’s because it is anti-establishment and has a charismatic leader in Wallonia (Hedebouw) but this is a poor analogy. The Workers Party (PTB) had nowhere near as much sudden success nation-wide as the N-VA did and never entered a cartel with government parties to project themselves on to the national stage like the N-VA did.  

I prefer Bertrand Henne’s analogy with the Lijst De Decker (LDD), which was a small libertarian radical right-wing formation that was successful in West Flanders and East Flanders for its ground game, and led by a charismatic leader.  The PTB phenomenon was, like LDD, restricted to 1 region , Liège province, where it built a steady record of social care and government accountability alongside a place known for its, err, revolutionary spirit.

Otherwise, the Walloon PS was actually fairly resilient to left-wing challenges, especially when you see how the Dutch and French equivalents had their flames all but extinguished by the radical left and the social liberal centre. Then the scandals started coming in: local politicians at the head of private non-profit organisations called “ASBLs” tasked with government portfolios funded by federal programs, and they were paying themselves silly money for having 2 meetings a month or, in Liege, overcharging the citizens’ energy bills. The PS is widely held responsible for this culture (see also my part about their pandering to “advocacy democracy” lobbies) even though its true that most parties do it. Anyway, the general anti-political sentiment has helped the PTB and most PS voters have no intention of ever voting to the Right of the PS.  

Quote
I am not an expert on Belgian politics, but would it be fair to say Flanders leans right and Wallonia leans left as it seems the left tends to win big there and right big in Flanders.

Yes, if you insist on analysing it from a purely regionalist/nationalist perspective. It’s an indirect relationship though.

Also keep in mind Wallonia just switched to a centre-right government.

Quote
Mind you the Christian Democrats seem fairly centrist so not sure if you would call the CDH or CD&V as right wing parties

The CD&V considers itself centrist but is now centre-right on the economy with protections for the elderly and agriculture (i.e their vote) and heavily nationalist with a few notable exceptions (such as its associated trade union). So I classify it as centre-right.

The Cdh is much more to the left although recently they have switched from their historical alliances with the PS to a partnership with the MR.  It’s a party that is now facing an identity crisis that is too complicated to explain in one go. Their youth wing for example is pro-Macron but their electorate are (to overgeneralise) small-c conservative farmers, cadres and conservative-religious people of all faiths.

Quote
and likewise Open VLD and Reformist Movement are labelled centre-right, but they same like Belgium's version of the Democrats of the US, Liberal Party of Canada, or Liberal Democrats of UK in terms of where they stand on the political spectrum as opposed to a more market liberal party like the VVD in the Netherlands. Otherwise correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is they are more like the D66 than VVD.


In Belgium the liberals have always been considered the centre-right and the Christian democrats the centrists. Its very confusing because their European parliamentary groups suggest otherwise, and you could argue CD&V is more right than MR, but it shows you that the left-right scale is sometimes an inaccurate measure and usually based on tradition.

VLD and MR are allied with both VVD and D66 in the Netherlands. There is not enough political space for there to be two liberal parties in each region of Belgium (except for our insane enclave of Brussels of course, we have space for three now).

From a purely ideological perspective, for sure VLD is now closer to VVD than when they were under Guy Verhofstadt. MR is a bit harder to say because it’s still a federation of right-wing parties and figures dominated by the liberal pillar, which isn’t necessarily liberal in the US/Canadian sense.

Quote
Also with the Worker's Party doing well any particular reason or is like France with Melenchon and UK with Corbyn you have a lot of dissatisfied younger voters who are attracted to hard left policies without fully understanding them.  Anyone know?

The PTB vote does indeed contain a strong youth element but studies show that the youth vote itself is split across 4-5 ways fairly equally. PTB mainly did well in old ouvriers blue collar districts where the youth are long gone. To categorise their vote as only young idealists with uni education would be a mistake. We'll wait and see what they do but I imagine they'll mainly get support from old PS working class districts, particularly in places affected by corruption.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 06:22:54 am by Rogier »Logged
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« Reply #71 on: September 01, 2017, 06:59:05 am »

Its september so as expected the kids are back to school, and that also goes for the political class and their running soap opera, which has to be reported on. All eyes are on francophone Belgium after Lutgen's bizarre coup, mainly because the Flemish parties are still in the "QUOTE ME ON A REALLY CONTROVERSIAL MEASURE SO AT LEAST I GET HEADLINES"-mode (soooo 2016). This time it was Zuhal Demir's (N-VA) turn to get all the attention by saying that handicapped people should only get benefits if they have lived 10 years in Belgium.


Zuhal Demir first attracted controversy for non-political reasons : posing for magazine shoots in parliament.

Anyway, Lutgen (cdH) only managed to change the government in Wallonia, when Brussels and especially the Federation of Wallonia-Brussels (henceforth FWB, whose competences include the hot topic of education reform) are legislatively blocked. The regional government in Brussels seems stable due to the regional cdH refusing to resign its ministers, but the FWB is basically all but blocked.


First man home, the Kingmaker, Olivier Maingain, who starts the new schoolyear with some 80 propositions to MR and cdH in order to form an alliance at the FWB. Basically, he's trying to sue for peace with a small leverage, knowing he won't be listened to. Because Défi know that an alliance with MR-cdH would make no strategic sense (they want to siphon votes from both of them), they're at least trying to make any alliance at the FWB level a "francophone union" of PS-MR-cdH-Défi-ECOLO. He's also been accused of trying to break up the MR-PS alliance of Brussels-City in order to favour his son Fabian in the coming elections. All this while presenting himself as the "Macronist clean renewal" of FWB. 25 years as head of his party and having to be parachuted into a Défi fiefdom to obtain a mayoralty would suggest he is more of a Bayrou.


Lutgen and Maingain have been at odds, the personal battle reflecting a cultural divide between the laique city and the catholic-influenced country side in Bastogne where the former hails from. Their rivalry is nothing compared to Maingain's one with the MR Michel faction though


Next, Elio di Rupo, who had to postpone his book release last year after the scandal, chose to release it this month. In his book he details his life story (a heartening one, but told a million times now) and how he will save the PS by veering it to the left with a bunch of "heart-felt" policies. The take-out policy for the media though? The idea that marijuana legalisation would save Wallonia's agricultural sector. Not bad considering the Dutch have only legalised distribution, not production.

A comic by Nicolas Vadot showing the uneasy position Di Rupo is in with Paul Magnette waiting in the wings. Its widely expected the latter will let the former will take the bullet in 2019 though as Magnette focuses on retaining Wallonia's largest city, Charleroi.


Next up was Walloon minister Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR), who tackled what he called the "culture of dependency" amongst Wallonia's unemployed. Hard luck as a radio comedian then pointed out that the new Employment minister "should know all about job seeking given he managed to employ his brother at the Public Center for Social Welfare in his local commune, his wife and his sister-in-law at the Provincial level and his sister as chief of staff of Georges Pire, [a high profile MR politician caught up in the Publifin scandal]".


Not to be outdone by his new liberal coalition partners, the Machiavellian mayor in absentia of Namur, Walloon minister and architect of the cdH coup, Maxime Prévot comes out with a declaration that the cdH would be ready to govern with the N-VA in 2019. Followed by major backtracking to make his party look stupid (Lutgen saying he dreams of a government with no PS and no N-VA being the highlight). Of course, realistically this had to be said, as a PTB plurality in Wallonia come 2019 would mean a Michel II federal government by default, with cdH included. But suggesting you want to ally with the N-VA out of choice is a bad idea with the Walloon electorate.

Maxime Prévot is (or was) seen as something of a last hope of the dwindling cdH electorate who dream of a Lazarus-style resurrection in the electoral market. His image as an ideal son-in-law and clean cut helps them in the Walloon capital of Namur, a key battleground.


Given the staggering PR disasters at hand here, it will be very interesting to see the latest polls in Wallonia and Brussels. Once the circus there is over though it will be time to discuss the main battles in the upcoming local elections.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 07:23:37 am by coloniac »Logged
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« Reply #72 on: September 01, 2017, 11:00:06 am »

What exactly do the linguistic parliaments do?
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« Reply #73 on: September 01, 2017, 11:33:05 am »

What exactly do the linguistic parliaments do?

Amai. Do you have time to read the Belgian constitution? Cheesy

The simple memory technique we learnt at school was that everything not on the federal level that has to do with material goods and the allocation of resources is devolved to the regional parliaments. This is how the PS(!) demanded Belgian federalism should be shaped in order to stop the CVP from favouring Flemish industry over the declining Walloon one.
Here are the competences : https://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/government/regions/competence


The linguistic parliament (or communities) deals with non-material issues. Education is the main one, then healthcare, culture, science, tourism, etc. The Flemish demanded this as they saw it as the next logical step towards the creation of Flemish nationhood (same curriculum, and so on).
https://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/government/communities/competence


The typically Belgian compromise was having both. Brussels-Region and the German speaking community (Ostbelgien) politicians tended to lobby for regional structures only, with education and economic policy back in their respective hands.

However, a legal scholar would be able to give you more insight into the exact competences, the particularity of Flanders' government merging the two parliaments and essentially making the linguistic one a committee, etc.

tl,dr its a mess.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 01:38:45 pm by coloniac »Logged
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« Reply #74 on: September 08, 2017, 04:39:06 pm »

New polls.

The Flemish take-aways are that N-VA is taking votes back. Which is strange considering BDW's strategy lately has been to target VB electorates by saying that the citizens of one of his Arab-heavy districts "have the same faces as the Barcelona attackers" after the incidents there. He may be thinking about Antwerp more than Flanders though.

Groen are also the third largest party now, and are on course for their best result.
Vld and spa are feeling the pressure for sure.




Now, for Wallonia, Lutgen's coup has backfired on his party, but seemingly helped the MR consolidate. The PTB is no longer largest but I think the last one was an outlier, and Venezuela certainly didn't help them. So MR, after huffing and puffing, are finally ready to reclaim top spot :

I imagine cdH's votes in Wallonia are partly split in between the last remnant of progressive Christians joining ECOLO (a phenomenon that I was surprised to discover started a surprisingly long time ago, and not just in Belgium) and the ones who bought into the "radical centrism" going to Défi.

The big winner is Défi in Brussels, who are now at 18%, remarkable considering the lack of communitarian agenda and the lukewarm response to their re-branding. Maingain's role as a tough kingmaker to handle on governance has certainly helped his media image. I was convinced his gamble would fail considering he epitomises the old school francophone elite to some. But his party is modernising better than expected.
Little is mention of ECOLO overtaking PS, but there is a margin of error to consider. Still bad news for PS.


« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 04:42:17 pm by coloniac »Logged
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