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Deadlock in negociations in Belgium

bub

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Lalibre.be - Ce que la N-VA met sur la table de Di Rupo

The elections that took place in mid-June have shown the widening gap between Wallonia (where socialists are the major political force) and Flanders (where the N-VA, right-wing nationalists, got an overwhelming victory).

So, the two major parties, which have to lead the negociations in order to find a coalition (and form the future government), are totally opposed on most issues: Walloons want a status-quo (= to keep a federal state where regions have a large autonomy) while Flemish (who are more numerous than the Walloons) want much more autonomy.

Since leaks in the medias had ruined the 2007 negociations (it took 8 months to form a government, and the government fell several times), and since these negociations are even more difficult (this time an openly independentist party is, by far, the largest party in Belgium), the negociators have been very careful and the negociations were secret.

However, the negociations seem to be in a deadlock and some exasperated negociator have leaked some informations in the medias. It looks like the Flemish nationalists are keeping an hard-line, refusing to make concessions.

For example, this party, whose program wants to abolish the monarchy, to merge the Belgian and the Dutch army, and whose long-term goal is the end of Belgium, wants:

- to regionalise all the powers of the ministry of internal affairs: control over elections, the police, the justice...

- to regionalise the passports, ID cards, driving licences...all these things won't be Belgian anymore, we'll have Walloon or Flemish ID cards and driving licences.

- to regionalise the immigration policies

- to regionalise the traffic rules

- to regionalise all the transportation networks (canals, railway and aerial transportations...)

- to break up the last bilingual circonscription (around Brussels)

...

These are only the leaked claims, but I suppose there are more similar claims (for example, the regionalisation of the whole welfare system)




On the other side, Walloon negociators are paralysed. Since they are a minority, all they can do is to accept most of these claims. If they refuse, there will be a state crisis, new elections in September or in October, and the Flemish nationalists (who nearly have the majority in Flanders) are likely to become even more powerful.

That's going to be problematic, because the day Flanders stops funding Wallonia, poverty rate will rise from 4% to 10% and we won't be able to fund our social security system anymore. As for Brussels, which is one of the richest areas in Europe (many international institutions are located there), it could be the victim of this crisis (if the NATO, the EU headquarters etc...leave) and the whole economy of the region (both Flanders and Wallonia) would suffer a lot.
 
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Civil1z@tion

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A sticky situation indeed. Is this finally going to be the political crisis that breaks up Belgium or do you think the country will last a while longer?
 

bub

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A sticky situation indeed. Is this finally going to be the political crisis that breaks up Belgium or do you think the country will last a while longer?
Many people believed the 2007 crisis would break up the country, there was a kind of mass hysteria (with demonstrations...) but in the end nothing happened.

Maybe it will be the same again, I really don't know.

But on the other hand, it's the first time ever that a separatist party gets so many votes (it's the biggest party in Flanders and in Belgium), the vice-prime minister of our kingdom will be a republican (in the meaning "who wants to abolish the monarchy") who wants to break up the country, the president of the senate will be someone who wants to abolish the senate...and no one knows when we'll get a government, according to new leaks in the newspapers, there is an "abyssal" gap between Walloon and Flemish negociators.

Even if we don't break up, there will probably be some serious changes, and the federal state will become powerless, empty, with the regions having a lot of autonomy. That's precizely what the leader of the separatist party predicted: “We don’t want a revolution, just evolution”, said N-VA leader Bart De Wever repeatedly. We do not want to split Belgium, we will just let it “evaporate”
 
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bub

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Elio Di Rupo, the Walloon socialist whose job is to prepare the negociations, has made public the results of his pre-negociations.

In Flanders, all negociators say it is a big disappointment ("ontgoocheling"), that it is far from being enough.

De Standaard Online - Dikke wolken boven preformatie

In Wallonia, newspapers are a bit scared by the extent of the concessions made by Di Rupo: he agreed with around 70% of the Flemish claims, and now the Walloon parties accept the concept of a "Copernican revolution" (so far, Wallonia and Flanders have X and Y jurisdictions (trade, environment, economy...) and the Belgian federal state had all that was not explicitely given to the regions in the treaties; in the future it will be the contrary, thus the federal regions will have much more power)

Lalibre.be - En deux mots : "niet genoeg "


Thus, the Walloons have made big concessions (huge transfer of power from Belgium to Wallonia and Flanders) but Flemish politicians (even the moderates, who have been defeated and are now as uncompromising as the separatist N-VA) think that it is not enough and (it gets technical) disagree about who will get the new powers from the federal state:

- the Flemish want the Communities (= the Flemish Community and the Frenchspeaking Community => all the people who speak Flemish and all the people who speak French) to get the new jurisdictions

- the Walloons want the Regions (= the Flemish region, the Walloon region and the Brussels region) to get the new jurisdiction.

Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the first case (power to the communities), the Flemish win because they would have much more power over Brussels, which would become "co-ruled" by both the Flemish and the Walloons. That would give them more power than they have at the present time, and the Brussels region could disappear or become insignificant.

In the second case (power to the regions), the Walloons win because the Brussels region is 90% Frenchspeaking, thus it would side with them.



As for the extent of the power transfer, it is not clear yet, but it will probably be very important. So far, we can be sure that important matters such as welfare, society taxes and income taxes will be transfered to the regions. Flemish politicians also want to transfer other matters such as unemployment insurance, healthcare and justice.


On a side note, count Henry d'Udekem d'Acoz, the uncle of our future queen (if the monarchy has not been abolished), princess Mathilde duchess of Brabant, has joined the separatist and anti-monarchist Flemish nationalist party yesterday...

Ciney: L'oncle de la princesse Mathilde à la N-VA - L'Avenir
 

justabubba

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... count Henry d'Udekem d'Acoz, the uncle of our future queen ... has joined the separatist and anti-monarchist Flemish nationalist party ...
quite a strong stand for a member of the royal court

unfortunately, the other aspects of the post i was unable to appreciate, not having an understanding of belgian politics
what do you anticipate as the best case scenario ... compared to what you expect the ultimate resolution to be?
 

bub

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quite a strong stand for a member of the royal court
yeah that's as if Dick Cheney had converted to Islam


unfortunately, the other aspects of the post i was unable to appreciate, not having an understanding of belgian politics
Sorry, I'm trying to make it look as simple as possible :p


what do you anticipate as the best case scenario ... compared to what you expect the ultimate resolution to be?
The best for Flanders would be to get a lot of autonomy (so that they don't have to transfert money to Wallonia anymore), but not a total autonomy: there would be some turmoil and I think hundreds of companies and international organizations would leave Brussels, that would be a huge loss of money.

The best for Wallonia would be a status-quo, because more autonomy would mean less money from Flanders. Furthermore, if we divide everything, it means that we are going to have even more state employees: instead of a single national statistic office, we already have a flemish, a walloon, and a brusselian statistic office...sometimes it's ridiculous, imagine 3 different highway codes or 3 different police forces for a country smaller than Maryland...
 

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This road will lead nowhere and those wallonian idiots would have done a better job giving all the power to flandre in return for the never ending money isseu. In my view, Belgium should adopt english or sperman as the national language, remove all the regional power to national parliament and hope those french speaking socialist politicians drink themselves to death.
 

bub

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I don't really know what to think anymore, as the Flemish and Walloon medias cover the crisis on a very different way, and they contradict each others every day (one day everyone is "optimistic" about the negociations, the next day everyone is "very pessimistic", the day after they say that "there is some hope"...)

But there has still been some unprecedented clash yesterday: while there seemed to be some hope about the end of the pre-negociations (yes, it takes 3 months to "find an agreement" about the "perimeter" of the future negociations => they negociate about what is negociable...and there is no agreement yet), because it looks like the Walloons have made quite a lot of concessions (they agreed to discuss on things that were considered as totally unnegociable until a few weeks ago), the leader of the Flemish nationalists (most important party) has brought a new claim: he wants to regionalize income, wealth and land taxes.

When she heard that, the nr.2 of the Walloon socialist party (second most important party) replied "I don't believe that there can be a positive outcome to these negociations"
The leader of the Flemish nationalists answered "Then you should prepare yourself for the end of this country"
"Don't worry, we're already preparing ourselves for this outcome. And we won't give up Brussels"

:shock:

I know that the medias can manipulate people and make them panic irrationaly, but this time it's not a journalist or lambda citizen who are talking about breaking up Belgium, it's the leaders of the two most important political parties!
 

bub

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And there is also something worrying that I'm noticing (but that's not news), it's the comments of the readers of the newspapers. People can vote for them, so you can see the "most popular" comment on every topic.

I'll translate some of them to show you the widenign gap between Flanders and Wallonia


De Franstaligen zullen dus nog immer electorale belangen in Vlaams-Brabant hebben, en dus ook territoriale ambities. In wezen verandert er niks. Eigenlijk krijgen de Franskiljons hun zin, hun positie is niet verslechterd, en de Vlamingen blijven met lege handen achter, hoewel ze in deze materie de grondwet aan hun kant hebben.
De Standaard Online - Hoe Di Rupo BHV wil splitsen - 302 votes for this comment (under an article about the Walloon propositions in the negociations)

"(with this proposition) the Frenchspeakers (Walloons) will still have electoral interrests in Flemish Brabant (=the Flemish area around Brussels, where many Frenchspeakers live) and thus they'll still have territorial ambitions. So in fact (this proposition) does not change anything (= it's not enough, Flemish can't accept that). The Franskiljons (pejorative term meaning "Walloons who colonize Flanders") get what they wanted, they do not make concessions, while the Flemish put a lot of effort into it, even if we have the Constitution on our side"

So according to this man, who is given overwhelming support by the Flemish readers of this newspaper, the Walloons do not make concessions and they are accused to ruin the negociations.

PLAN B KOMT IN BEELD. Volgens Di Rupo vraagt het staatszin om de onderhandelingen voort te zetten. Weldra vraagt het staatszin om ermee te stoppen. Men mag het land niet meeslepen in een nieuw 3 jarig Leterme traject. Dan komt Plan B haarscherp in beeld. De Belgicistisch zijn er ten stelligste van overtuigd dat er voor een zelfstandig Vlaanderen geen meerderheid bestaat aan Vlaamse kant. Als men de Vlamingen laat kiezen tussen een efficiënt modern België en een zelfstandig Vlaanderen hebben ze quasi zeker gelijk. Maar als men ze dwingt te kiezen tussen la Begique de papa met zijn obsessionele territoriumvreters, zijn Franstalige graaicultuur, zijn hautaine Franstalige übermensch mentaliteit en een efficiënt zakelijk zelfstandig Vlaanderen, bevrijd van alle toeters en alarmbellen, dan slaat de balans quasi zeker over in de andere richting. Als men daaraan twijfelt, dat men dan een volksraadpleging organiseert
De Standaard Online - Di Rupo houdt kaarten op zak - 612 votes for this comment (under an article about a meeting between the leader of the Walloon socialists and the king)

"Plan B" becomes clearer - According to the leader of the Walloon socialists, it is the interrest of the state to carry on the negociations. But on the contrary, it is interrest of the state to stop these (too) long negociations. We can't afford a 3-years long deadlock like under the previous government. That's why the plan B becomes clearer. The Belgicistisch (slang for "those who want to keep the unity of Belgium at all cost") are still convinced that a majority of Flemish people don't support the independence of Flanders. And indeed if we let the Flemish people choose between a modern and efficient Belgium (= if the Walloons accept all the Flemish claims in the negociations), and Flemish independence, then they may be right. But if they are forced to choose between "la Belgique de papa" ("Daddy's Belgium" = the country as it was a few decades ago, without autonomy for Flanders and Wallonia) with its obsessive land-stealers (the Walloons who live in Flanders), its parasit-culture (slang for "unemployed people who live at the expense of the hard working people"; joblessness is much higher in Wallonia than in Flanders), its haughty übermensch mentality (in the past, rulers of Flanders spoke French) on one side, and an efficient and independent Flanders on the other side, I'm pretty sure most Flemish people would choose the latter solution. If they're not sure about that, then we could organize a referendum (about the Flemish independence)"

So according to this one, if the Walloons do not make more efforts to accept the Flemish claims to autonomy (which will, according to him, make the governance much more efficient), then Flanders should become independent.



Now let's look at some reactions in Walloon newspapers

Vivement que ces négociations foirent définitivement, que la Wallonie et Bruxelles soient ratachées a la France, car je préfererai de loin vivre dans la France de Sarkozy plutôt que sous la coupe de la maffia p$.
Dirupo ne sera alors plus qu'un petit député de la sous-préfecture du borinage, dans l'opposition et hors d'état de nuire!
Lalibre.be - De Wever: "Il faut vous préparer rapidement à la fin du pays !" - 110 votes (under an article "prepare yourself to the end of the country")

"I can't wait for these negociations to fail once and for all, so that Wallonia and Brussels get annexed to France. I'd rather live in Sarkozy's France than under the yoke of the Walloon socialist mafia. Di Rupo (leader of the Walloon socialists) would only be an insignificant deputy of the Borinage subprefecture, in the opposition and unable to harm us anymore"


EDR veut tellement être Premier Ministree qu'il a cédé sur tout. Et maintenant il n'a plus rien pour négocier.
Lalibre.be - Le syndrome de l’orange bleue - 64 votes

"Di Rupo (leader of the Walloon socialists) wants so much to be the future prime minister that he has given up all of our claims (= the Walloons have accepted all the Flemish claims). And now there is nothing to negociate anymore"

Il est urgent de reconstituer le front francophones pour préparer le divorce final dans les meilleures conditions.
Lalibre.be - Di Rupo refuse la stratégie de la N-V A - 134 votes

"It's urgent to re-organize a "Walloon front" and to prepare ourselves for the divorce in the best conditions"


......
 

bub

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Looks like the boat is sinking, Di Rupo (the main negociator) resigned today but the king asked him to keep on trying to reach a pre-agreement.
 

bub

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Di Rupo has resigned again, the King has accepted this and has appointed two "royal mediators" (a Walloon socialist and a Flemish nationalist) in order to try and unlock the situation.

For the first time this week-end, several Walloon socialists have openly talked about the secession of Flanders, saying we have to prepare the end of the country.

Onkelinx: “Il faut se préparer à la fin de la Belgique” - lesoir.be

Studies have been published in Walloon newspapers, saying that Brussels (which is officially the capital of Flanders) is only 5% Flemish and that a new state comprising Wallonia and Brussels was viable.

Lalibre.be - 5,3 % de Flamands à Bruxelles
Lalibre.be - Un Etat Wallonie-Bruxelles serait viable

In the meantime, Walloon christian-democrats are trying to create a "corridor" between Wallonia and Brussels, in case of a Flemish independence; that has provoked some anger in Flanders, where politicians replied that "we're not in Serbia", while some French politicians say they should get ready to "welcome our French-speaking neighbours from Wallonia and Brussels" and try to avoid a violent divorce "a la Yougoslavia"

« Milquet prend les Flamands pour des Serbes » - lesoir.be
La France se prépare à accueillir les Wallons -- RTL info

Concerning a future civil war (which seems impossible), it looks like Walloons got "owned" in the different reforms of the army: while many soldiers are Walloon, many barracks have been closed in the southern half of the country, and it looks like most of the military equipment has been transfered to Flanders: all the artillery, all the armored vehicles and most of the airplanes are in Flemish bases. In case of a separation, they will get all this equipment.
 

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Sounds incredibly complicated bub, for such a small country the feelings and stakes seem to large?

Are feelings running at the point that people seriously contemplate civil war?
 

bub

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Sounds incredibly complicated bub, for such a small country the feelings and stakes seem to large?

Are feelings running at the point that people seriously contemplate civil war?
Not a civil war, but people are talking about a possible separation every day, like 3 years ago (the difference is that top-politicians from both sides are also openly talking about it, I think it is new).

I don't think it could turn violent, we do not have militias or paramilitary groups, and in the only disputed areas (some towns along the linguistic border around Brussels and near the German border) demonstrations have never really been violent.

As the leader of the Flemish nationalists (who could be our next and last prime minister...) says, he's not seeking for a revolution. If Flanders becomes independent, it will not be overnight, it will be a slow process in which Belgium "evaporates"
 

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Not a civil war, but people are talking about a possible separation every day, like 3 years ago (the difference is that top-politicians from both sides are also openly talking about it, I think it is new).

I don't think it could turn violent, we do not have militias or paramilitary groups, and in the only disputed areas (some towns along the linguistic border around Brussels and near the German border) demonstrations have never really been violent.

As the leader of the Flemish nationalists (who could be our next and last prime minister...) says, he's not seeking for a revolution. If Flanders becomes independent, it will not be overnight, it will be a slow process in which Belgium "evaporates"
Although I understand the Flemish claims for independence, I am worried about a particular issue.

What would become of the King?

Or, if Albert II is to remain in charge, Flanders to unite with NL and Wallonia with FRA, where will he reign?

Let me be clear, I don't want Him!
 
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bub

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Although I understand the Flemish claims for independence, I am worried about a particular issue.

What would become of the King?

Or, if Albert II is to remain in charge, Flanders to unite with NL and Wallonia with FRA, where will he reign?

Let me be clear, I don't want Him!
Why? You're used to the "imperial style", with Sarkozy :p

There are several different scenarios, and I think Albert keeps his job only if Belgium doesn't get divided (and anyways he doesn't reign anymore, he doesn't have any power); if Belgium gets divided, then

- Flanders is likely to remain independent, I don't think they would join the Netherlands

- Wallonia could form a confederacy with Brussels or join France (but in this case I'm moving to Italy :p)

- Brussels could be an international city, or join Wallonia. It's not likely that they join Flanders
 

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-- Flanders is likely to remain independent, I don't think they would join the Netherlands
What would be the capital? Have they got an idea for a name of the country / state? What products or industry would keep it going?

-- Wallonia could form a confederacy with Brussels or join France (but in this case I'm moving to Italy :p)
Are you a "Walloon?" Where do you reside and how would this affect you if you stayed? If Wallonia went independent, would it have it's own administrative capital too?

Is Wallonia geographically separate from Brussels?

-- Brussels could be an international city, or join Wallonia. It's not likely that they join Flanders
"Belgium" is lucky it's all part of the EU and there are laws about borders! This could all get complex very quickly otherwise. I also wonder, if Brussels tied with Wallonia, wouldn;t the sheer size and importance of Belgium mean it quickly became the dominant partner?

Sorry for all the questions!
 

bub

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What would be the capital? Have they got an idea for a name of the country / state? What products or industry would keep it going?
That would probably be called "republic of Flanders", they would not have economic problems since it is one of the richest areas in Europe (120% of the EU average) but they could loose a lot of money if the international institutions leave Brussels and go to Luxemburg or Strasburg. As for its capital, they would like it to be Brussels but Brussels is populated mainly by Frenchspeakers (68%) and foreigners (27%), there are only 5% of Flemish people there. I guess it could be Ghent or Antwerp.



Are you a "Walloon?" Where do you reside and how would this affect you if you stayed? If Wallonia went independent, would it have it's own administrative capital too?
Yes I am, I live near Namur, which is already the capital of the Walloon region (which has some autonomy, but which could become a totally independent state thus). I don't think there would be great changes, but I know that without money transfers from Flanders, we'll have to make reforms (to decrease government spending: there will be lower unemployment benefits, much less spendings on welfare, healthcare...); in the long term it will be good (we need to increase the number of people who work, and to do that it is better to have an adequate economic policy; today there is a single economic policy for two very different regions) but in the short term the poverty rate is going to increase from 4% to 12%.

Is Wallonia geographically separate from Brussels?
Yes, that's why some Frenchspeaking politicians want to create a "corridor", but I find it a bit stupid because it won't make a difference. We can cross the French or the German border without even noticing it, I don't see why there would be problems at the future Flemish border!



"Belgium" is lucky it's all part of the EU and there are laws about borders! This could all get complex very quickly otherwise. I also wonder, if Brussels tied with Wallonia, wouldn;t the sheer size and importance of Belgium mean it quickly became the dominant partner?
No, I don't think it would be dominant, these are two very different regions: Brussels is a metropol with hundreds of international institutions and thousands of diplomats/lobbyists; Wallonia is a former industrial region which is trying to convert to a modern economy. There would be no "domination", it would be cooperation.
 

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Do you see potential for a "Troubles"-type situation emerging should Belgium break up? Meaning if Brussels is incorporated into either Wallonia or Flanders that the other community might engage in various acts of violence. This would seem to be more likely if Brussels were incorporated into Flanders.

Honestly, there are a variety of reasons I can see for why this could be a potentially disastrous situation. Belgium has hundreds of billions in government debt and a huge interconnected banking system relative to its size. Were it to break up this would raise serious economic issues.
 

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Belgium is not going to split up, it's just a lot of BS between the two parties who know full well neither one is going to be happy with the outcome.

- There's no way Flanders is going to give up Brussels, it's located in Flanders, surrounded by dutch speaking country.
- There's no way they will find a solution for the debt problem, Wallonia can't handle it and I'm pretty sure Flanders is not going to offer taking it over.
- Both states are too small to survive, which has nothing to do with money but more with political influence.

Moreover, both states are committed to european integration, a move in the other direction lacks political support. Only Flanders has sufficient nationalists but even there you have to wonder if they have become true nationalists or simply fed up with the christian and socialist party for their endless failures, the corruption, and the problems of the crap system both invented after their language struggle in the 70s.
 

bub

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Belgium is not going to split up, it's just a lot of BS between the two parties who know full well neither one is going to be happy with the outcome.
First lines of the statutes of the N-VA (Flemish party who won the elections and who would get even more votes if there were elections today, according to a poll): "In haar streven naar een beter bestuur en meer democratie kiest de Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie logischerwijs voor de onafhankelijke republiek Vlaanderen, lidstaat van een democratische Europese Unie."

http://www.n-va.be/files/default/nva_images/documenten/statuten.pdf

"In its struggle for a better rule and more democracy, the N-VA chooses logically an independent Flemish republic, member state of a democratic European Union".

It is the first time that an independentist party got so many votes, if you add those who flatly support a Flemish independence (N-VA with the VB and the Lijst Dedecker) you get around 45% of the Flemish votes, and if you add those who support confederalism (CD&V with some from the SP-A and the VLD who were in the Volksunie) you get probably around 70% of the Flemish electorate.

So I can't really predict if Belgium will split up, but we've never been closer to a separation and it gets worse and worse (polls show that the independentists would get even more votes than they had in June, while it was a historical high). The proof is that some Walloon politicians start saying we should prepare for this scenario, which was a total taboo until recently.

- There's no way Flanders is going to give up Brussels, it's located in Flanders, surrounded by dutch speaking country.
- There's no way they will find a solution for the debt problem, Wallonia can't handle it and I'm pretty sure Flanders is not going to offer taking it over.
These are the only reasons why Belgium still exist: huge debt and a struggle to control Brussels. But the debt can be shared, and Flemish can't reasonably claim a city that is only populated by 5% of Dutch-speaking people. As I posted above, studies have shown that this week, I doubt it's a coincidence that these studies are publied now.

- Both states are too small to survive, which has nothing to do with money but more with political influence.
Flanders is bigger and richer than Denmark, Norway, Finland or the 3 baltic states, and according to some studies (also published this week...not a coincidence) a Walloon-Brussel state would be viable

Moreover, both states are committed to european integration, a move in the other direction lacks political support. Only Flanders has sufficient nationalists but even there you have to wonder if they have become true nationalists or simply fed up with the christian and socialist party for their endless failures, the corruption, and the problems of the crap system both invented after their language struggle in the 70s.
Flemish nationalists want to be part of the EU, they are European federalists. They just don't want Belgium anymore because they say it is useless and inefficient.
 
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bub

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Do you see potential for a "Troubles"-type situation emerging should Belgium break up? Meaning if Brussels is incorporated into either Wallonia or Flanders that the other community might engage in various acts of violence. This would seem to be more likely if Brussels were incorporated into Flanders.

Honestly, there are a variety of reasons I can see for why this could be a potentially disastrous situation. Belgium has hundreds of billions in government debt and a huge interconnected banking system relative to its size. Were it to break up this would raise serious economic issues.
That could be a catastrophe if all the international organizations left Brussels, because they bring an important part of the wealth of the country and give us some visibility. But this could be avoided if the separation happens gradually, which is what the Flemish nationalists are looking for.

As for violence, it is unthinkable. There are sometimes demonstrations but they have never been very violent, and unlike in Yougoslavia, there is no resentment between Flemish and Walloon people.
 

Demon of Light

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As for violence, it is unthinkable. There are sometimes demonstrations but they have never been very violent, and unlike in Yougoslavia, there is no resentment between Flemish and Walloon people.
Well, I was making a comparison to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, because I felt that would be more plausible than a Yugoslav scenario.
 

paris

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Why? You're used to the "imperial style", with Sarkozy :p

There are several different scenarios, and I think Albert keeps his job only if Belgium doesn't get divided (and anyways he doesn't reign anymore, he doesn't have any power); if Belgium gets divided, then

- Flanders is likely to remain independent, I don't think they would join the Netherlands

- Wallonia could form a confederacy with Brussels or join France (but in this case I'm moving to Italy :p)

- Brussels could be an international city, or join Wallonia. It's not likely that they join Flanders
Hey, not a bad idea, I would probably be happy with an impotent King instead of that fracking Sarko.

Btw I thought you were going to study in Italy. Change of plans?

Well, I was making a comparison to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, because I felt that would be more plausible than a Yugoslav scenario.
I don't think it is comparable. Although the French speaking Belgians have been the dominant class for years and imo deserve some sort of backlash, I don't believe the federal troops were ever sent to clamp down on Flemish protesters. I hope this is right. Bub?
 
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Djoop

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First lines of the statutes of the N-VA (Flemish party who won the elections and who would get even more votes if there were elections today, according to a poll): "In haar streven naar een beter bestuur en meer democratie kiest de Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie logischerwijs voor de onafhankelijke republiek Vlaanderen, lidstaat van een democratische Europese Unie."

http://www.n-va.be/files/default/nva_images/documenten/statuten.pdf

"In its struggle for a better rule and more democracy, the N-VA chooses logically an independent Flemish republic, member state of a democratic European Union".

It is the first time that an independentist party got so many votes, if you add those who flatly support a Flemish independence (N-VA with the VB and the Lijst Dedecker) you get around 45% of the Flemish votes, and if you add those who support confederalism (CD&V with some from the SP-A and the VLD who were in the Volksunie) you get probably around 70% of the Flemish electorate.

So I can't really predict if Belgium will split up, but we've never been closer to a separation and it gets worse and worse (polls show that the independentists would get even more votes than they had in June, while it was a historical high). The proof is that some Walloon politicians start saying we should prepare for this scenario, which was a total taboo until recently.
Do the independance parties have a majority, are the confederates going to support their agenda, is Wallonia going to cooperate? I think it’s never going to happen. If they‘d gain a majority they still depend on Wallonia and their willingness to find a solution for Brussels and the debt isseu. Let’s say they would be willing to sacrifice Brussels and agree on the debt, is that what flemish people favor or would such an agreement cost them voters? When they can no longer rely on popular criticism and become dependant on their ability to find solutions, their electorate is going to diminish like snow for the sun.

We can compare the populism of the dutch PVV with independence parties in Flanders, popular because of their criticism of the old power parties, but not presenting any viable solution to the problems that causes the malcontent.

These are the only reasons why Belgium still exist: huge debt and a struggle to control Brussels. But the debt can be shared, and Flemish can't reasonably claim a city that is only populated by 5% of Dutch-speaking people. As I posted above, studies have shown that this week, I doubt it's a coincidence that these studies are publied now.
I find your view about Brussels very interesting Bub, I immediately thought about another capital in the middle east. Are you suggesting that language is the deciding factor?

Flanders is bigger and richer than Denmark, Norway, Finland or the 3 baltic states, and according to some studies (also published this week...not a coincidence) a Walloon-Brussel state would be viable
Bigger? A country works like a brand it the sense that if you want people to go on holiday in Belgium, they should at the very least know it exists. Flanders may survive but it’s not going to do them much good, they wont have a WC, the olympics or chair the EU as often as Belgium would. It’s going to take time and effort before people find out where to buy the best beer and chocolate.

Flemish nationalists want to be part of the EU, they are European federalists. They just don't want Belgium anymore because they say it is useless and inefficient.
Exactly, and that makes them hypocrites; supposedly supporting european integration while their raison d’etre is the segregation of Belgium. On one hand they are unable to work out their differences with the Walloons but on the other they are convinced they’ll have less problems dealing with 25+ EU countries (among them Wallonia). It’s ridiculous but it’s quite telling at the same time.

I think that flemish people are fed up with politicians who seem unable to solve problems and who spend most of their time forming governments. I do not believe they really want to abolish Belgium, I just think the situation has become hopeless and this is a way to voice their disgust. Not so long ago, before the mines were closed, the situation was different and Flanders was the ‘weaker’ brother. Wallonia needs to reform no matter what happens.
 
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