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Saturday, 17 September 2011 20:00

Beleaguered Belgium: Yves Leterme Resigns

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Belgium flagIf the European Union begins to disintegrate, what signs would portend its spiral into disunion? One would be a member nation utterly ignoring the financial rules intended to support the EU by providing false and misleading information about its economy — actions already undertaken by both Greece and Portugal. Another indication of impending EU disintegration would be a member state simply printing its own euros — after only technically meeting the requirement of notification — as did Ireland a few months ago.

Or the European Union might dissolve as European society itself is breaking down with the rise of both radical Islam and secular humanism. Many Muslim settlements in the continent have become “no go” zones for police and fire services, and the disdain by the elites in Europe for historic Christian values is now deeply entrenched in the culture.

Furthermore, representative government is no longer working in some of the EU nations. The situation in beleaguered Belgium provides a prime example.  Yves Leterme, for months the “caretaker” Prime Minister of its government, has resigned to assume the post of Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Belgian nation has the dubious distinction of having gone the longest of any country in history without forming a government after a general election. Though the time it is taking Belgium to form its government far exceeds the norm, some shuffling and haggling between parties is naturally expected in those nations that have multiple political parties.

In Germany — which after the last general election saw the Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union party shift from a grand coalition with the Social Democrats to a more natural alliance with the Free Democrat Party — the transition was fairly straightforward; the CDU and the FDP had often worked together after elections in the past.

In Britain, which had a “hung” Parliament (no party had an absolute majority in the House of Commons), the situation was somewhat trickier: Scotland and Wales both had national independence parties in Parliament, and the Liberal Party — which historically was centered ideologically between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party — had not joined in a coalition government with the Conservative Party for many decades.

France, before DeGaulle created the Fifth Republic with its very powerful Office of the President, was notorious for forming governments, only to see each of them collapse within a matter of months as its competing parties vied for power. Historically, the government of Italy has also suffered from this sort of instability.

What has happened in Belgium, however, is entirely different. Its competing parties have never managed to come together to form a government since the general election in June of 2010. (By contrast, in the Third Republic of France, for example, parties in the Chamber of Deputies would form a majority and create a government.) Instead, Belgium's King Albert II, who is intended to be a figurehead as Chief of State, has been compelled to enter the political arena and pick someone to lead the government.

Although heads of state in constitutional monarchies have been useful as referees operating above the fray, King Albert II has been forced to take a role much closer to actual political selection. The other disturbing part of the Belgian crisis is that the government for almost 15 months has effectively been run by the bureaucracy, which is operating as if there were no government at all. The sharp division between the Flemish peoples (about 60 percent of the population) and the Walloons (the other 40 percent) is at the heart of the problem. As is true with so many modern nations of the West, the idea of succession is viewed with horror — even though the “Velvet Divorce” between the Czech and Slovak peoples worked quite well, and the disintegration of “Yugoslavia” (which simply means the Land of the Southern Slavs) has produced, finally, peace.

Analysts note the irony, then, that the caretaker Prime Minister of the hybrid creature known as Belgium is now leaving office to work for a globalist organization that has compelled nations to unite — even as he leaves a job which has so clearly indicated that forcing people to belong to an artificial political union (either in a member-state or in the EU itself) simply does not work.

Photo: Belgium flag

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