Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The beginning of an end?

Belgium has been without a government since June 10th.

I remember a strike of the federal administration in the US about 10 years ago. It lasted for a couple of months, and ended when the federal administration became concerned that if this goes on, the citizenry might notice that they are doing just as fine without them. Strikes are no fun if it turns out that nobody has needed you at work in the first place.

Belgium is well over the two-months mark, and the politicians are understandably concerned. An optimistic friend of mine said yesterday that they shouldn't fret, because if the country falls apart the resulting two countries will need a double set of politicians so nobody is left without work. Problem is, they already have a triple set, and that's not even counting all the EU politicians.

The underlying problem is that Flanders wants more autonomy, Wallonia wants less, and nothing really happens without the mutual consent. The result is probably about as satisfying as a relationship where one party is extremely horny and the other one decided to join the Order of Perpetual Celibacy.

And now they can't form a coalition, because the upcoming constitutional reform is the biggest thing on the list, and they can't find any consensus. Isn't it funny? Belgium is the only European country I know of where parties have tried to play a real sandbox game: they all agreed to keep the unpopular (or rather too-popular among the voters) kid - Vlaams Belang - out of any coalitions, and now they can't produce a coalition to keep it out of. Heh.

I kind of want them to fall apart, at least as long as they can do so peacefully. Partly because I am just very curious about how the thing will be handled bureaucratically, but also because I don't think Flanders needs Wallonia for anything.

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