Mark Twain once observed, "History has tried hard to teach us that we can't have good government under politicians." So far, Belgium has found that it is hard to have any government under politicians. Yesterday, this polyglot nation of two major linguistic groups, Flemish and Walloon, set the world record among countries with parliamentary systems for going the longest time after a general election without any government being formed (Iraq, “saved” by American forces, held the old record of 288 days).
A March 25 article from ANSAmed reports that “Secularism in Spain is quickly gaining steam,” and that the Archibishop of Madrid is warning of “the persecution of Catholics in Spain.” Although Spain is often viewed as historically serving as one of the bulwarks of Roman Catholicism, recent events offer evidence that anti-clerical sentiment is once again on the rise in that nation.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in London over the weekend to oppose proposed budget cuts being pursued by the new government. And while most of the union-led demonstrators reportedly remained peaceful, violence and vandalism were frequent occurrences. (See videos at bottom of page.)
When the Portuguese Parliament failed to pass an austerity bill on March 23, the country’s Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, resigned. That move leaves Portugal leaderless for at least two months while facing a significant financial crisis: it must refinance nearly $13 billion of short-term debt by June. Investors have already pushed interest rates on Portugal’s sovereign 10-year debt to almost 8 percent, while credit-rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s both downgraded that debt’s quality on March 24.