Any Belgians around?



  • I'm interested in citizens' opinions on the current political and social state of Belgium. I don't really know much about the social history of the country other than what I've recently picked up.  The news articles that I've read contain a lot of figures, but no opinion polls or editorials or the like, and I don't know how to read into the numbers.  (And any blags that I'd consider reading are in languages I don't understand.)  Is the nation's break-up seriously being planned, or just being used as leverage for other political reform?  Are those who didn't vote for De Wever and friends opposed to the split, or just more in favor of other parties?  Is this a bad thing for the people, or will this actually resolve some social issues? Is it a good thing for Flanders and bad for Wallonia?  Is the splitting force primarily cultural?  Or economic?  What's the majority opinion? etc etc.

    Any native insight would be welcome.



  •  Here's the only thing you need to know about understanding Europe: all of the smart people got out a long time ago and moved to America.  Except dhromed and ammoQQ, whom I love.



  • Everyone hates the French people so we are just trying to get rid of our French part in Belgium.



  • @XIU said:

    Everyone hates the French people so we are just trying to get rid of our French part in Belgium.
    Is that pretty much the common attitude?  What do the francophones think?  Do they oppose separation for economic reasons?



  • @Xyro said:

    @XIU said:

    Everyone hates the French people so we are just trying to get rid of our French part in Belgium.
    Is that pretty much the common attitude?  What do the francophones think?  Do they oppose separation for economic reasons?

    They sure do, most of the Flemish tax money goes to Wallonia so they'll do anything they can to keep the country together. Another popular argument is that we already are so small.



  • I find the title and post offensive, as it conjures up in me the idea that it may be more difficult to get awesome Belgian beer in the future.

    Please consider removing them.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    I find the title and post offensive, as it conjures up in me the idea that it may be more difficult to get awesome Belgian beer in the future.

    Please consider removing them.

    The best Belgian beers are Flemish anyway :)



  • I'm a big advocate of seperating the southernpart of the netherlands and joining with flanders to reinstate great brabant. It secretly makes a lot of sense both from historic perspective and in current eco-social gain. But it will of course never happen.

    But seperation of walonie and flanders would be great. Then flanders could FINALLY fix their damn roads. Currently they have a logrolling deal with wallonia in which each euro of government money that is spent on flanders also needs to be spent on a similar project in wallonia. Complete madness which mostly results in half the money getting wasted on some back-water road in wallonia. While the actual road infrastructure in flanders is very much in need of repairs. (they actually have a industry that is trying to make use of it and all)

     



  • @XIU said:

    The best Belgian beers are Flemish anyway :)
    Flemish, in that they contain a lot of phlegm.



  • @stratos said:

    flanders
    @stratos said:
    great brabant
    @stratos said:
    walonie
    @stratos said:
    wallonia

    This is like a goddamn Lewis Carroll poem.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @stratos said:

    flanders
    @stratos said:
    great brabant
    @stratos said:
    walonie
    @stratos said:
    wallonia

    This is like a goddamn Lewis Carroll poem.

    I'm pretty sure you can't fight the Great Brabant until you've defeated all the Lesser Brabants and done a couple of fetch quests.  Plus, you really need a weapon that does fire damage to have a chance.



  • @Xyro said:

    What do the francophones think?  Do they oppose
    separation for economic reasons?
     

    Yes.

    @stratos said:

    Currently they have a logrolling deal with wallonia in which each euro of government money that is spent on flanders also needs tobe spent on a similar project in wallonia. Complete madness which mostly results in half the money getting wasted on some back-water road in wallonia. While the actual road infrastructure in flanders is very much in need of repairs.
     

    I'd never heard of this. If it's so, then it's fucked.

     



  • Is the splitting of Belgium a fairly mainstream idea then?  Some of the news articles suggested that in the past it was a goal only pushed by political extremists, but of course if that guy got all the votes it must not be.   XIU, what would you like to happen?  Who did you vote for?

    Also, are there well-defined boarders between Flanders and Wallonia?



  •  One might want to compare the belgian political situation with what happened to Lombardia* in Italy not very long ago...

     

    * in case of Google betraying me (which is more than possible) : "Lombardie" in french, or let's say : the northern industrialized richest partof Italy, in opposition to the southern part of the country, where people are more... more latin.



  • @Xyro said:

    Is the splitting of Belgium a fairly mainstream idea then?  Some of the news articles suggested that in the past it was a goal only pushed by political extremists, but of course if that guy got all the votes it must not be.   XIU, what would you like to happen?  Who did you vote for?

    Also, are there well-defined boarders between Flanders and Wallonia?

    Since the N-VA has won and they want to separate so it could be a possibility.

    And yes, I also voted for the N-VA and I believe we would be much better/stronger/faster without Wallonia.



    Regions

    Shows the regions, with north being flanders, south being Wallonia and the blue part is the german part we took during World War II.



  • @XIU said:

    Shows the regions, with north being flanders, south being Wallonia
     

    As I understand it, the red part shows the location of the people opposed to a split.



  • @dhromed said:

    As I understand it, the red part shows the location of the people opposed to a split.

    Indeed, and the worst part is the little red striped part (Brussels) in Flanders, which was the reason we didn't have a government a while ago.



  • I've always loved Belgium, including the weirdness induced by its three languages.

    In general, it makes me sad when a country splits over language barriers or cultural differences. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia (although I suspect they split because noone could reliably spell their name) - sometimes there's too much history and a divorce is unavoidable, but to me as an outsider it still feels like such oldfashioned tribalism.

    Something certainly has too happen in Belgium; it's currently making governing impossible. I reaIise that not being Belgian, I can't begin to understand the BHV issue - but maybe some politicians should take a couple steps back and look at it from a bit more distance. From a recent newsreport I got the idea that many Belgians don't really get the issue either. It isn't all that black and white (or red, yellow and blue).

    It reminds me of two good friends who are both great people, but decided to split up over differences that I as an outsider may think are petty, but which to them have made life impossible.



  •  @b_redeker said:

    I've always loved Belgium, including the weirdness induced by its three languages.

    In general, it makes me sad when a country splits over language barriers or cultural differences. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia (although I suspect they split because noone could reliably spell their name) - sometimes there's too much history and a divorce is unavoidable, but to me as an outsider it still feels like such oldfashioned tribalism.

    Something certainly has too happen in Belgium; it's currently making governing impossible. I reaIise that not being Belgian, I can't begin to understand the BHV issue - but maybe some politicians should take a couple steps back and look at it from a bit more distance. From a recent newsreport I got the idea that many Belgians don't really get the issue either. It isn't all that black and white (or red, yellow and blue).

    It reminds me of two good friends who are both great people, but decided to split up over differences that I as an outsider may think are petty, but which to them have made life impossible.

    Now the stories I hear might be biased, but imagine that you live in the flemish part of the country, most people around you are are flemish. (and as such speak primarily dutch). But because of how the voting system works all the politicians governing your area are walonian and speak french. (and will refuse to speak dutch). Also some of the letters and forms you get sent from the municiple administration which should be bi-lingual, are in french only.

    That kind of stuff tends to get on peoples nerves. Especially coupled with the fact that walonia is more or less a has-been part of the country. After the metal industry died away it's main export product became politicians.



  • @stratos said:

     @b_redeker said:

    I've always loved Belgium, including the weirdness induced by its three languages.

    In general, it makes me sad when a country splits over language barriers or cultural differences. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia (although I suspect they split because noone could reliably spell their name) - sometimes there's too much history and a divorce is unavoidable, but to me as an outsider it still feels like such oldfashioned tribalism.

    Something certainly has too happen in Belgium; it's currently making governing impossible. I reaIise that not being Belgian, I can't begin to understand the BHV issue - but maybe some politicians should take a couple steps back and look at it from a bit more distance. From a recent newsreport I got the idea that many Belgians don't really get the issue either. It isn't all that black and white (or red, yellow and blue).

    It reminds me of two good friends who are both great people, but decided to split up over differences that I as an outsider may think are petty, but which to them have made life impossible.

    Now the stories I hear might be biased, but imagine that you live in the flemish part of the country, most people around you are are flemish. (and as such speak primarily dutch). But because of how the voting system works all the politicians governing your area are walonian and speak french. (and will refuse to speak dutch). Also some of the letters and forms you get sent from the municiple administration which should be bi-lingual, are in french only.

    That kind of stuff tends to get on peoples nerves. Especially coupled with the fact that walonia is more or less a has-been part of the country. After the metal industry died away it's main export product became politicians.

    Who said the only thing the Belgians make are chocolate and beer?  They also make incredibly tedious political issues that nobody could possibly care about.  The Greeks may be insane, what with their Communists rioting in the streets, but at least that makes good TV.

     

    Belgium needs to get its act together and start throwing molotov cocktails at riot police before their viewer ratings fall any lower and they get cancelled and replaced with a sitcom starring Larry The Cable Guy.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    a sitcom starring Larry The Cable Guy.
    Now that would cause riots in the streets.  Riotous laughter, that is!



  • Ok, I was born and raised in Belgium but am part of large foreign community that surrounds all the foreigners working in the EU institutions

    It can be bad, close to the language border it isn't too but in the far north of Belgium some of the flemish can get very hostile if you make the mistake of speaking French instead of Flemish. Things like signs naming villages have the french name painted out etc.

    There is a lot...a LOT of low level tension rather than high profile violence but it has been simmering for so long that it is causing real problems. Just like living with someone for 20 years who snores badly...



  • @mrgaijin said:

    Ok, I was born and raised in Belgium but am part of large foreign community that surrounds all the foreigners working in the EU institutions

    It can be bad, close to the language border it isn't too but in the far north of Belgium some of the flemish can get very hostile if you make the mistake of speaking French instead of Flemish. Things like signs naming villages have the french name painted out etc.

    There is a lot...a LOT of low level tension rather than high profile violence but it has been simmering for so long that it is causing real problems. Just like living with someone for 20 years who snores badly...

     

     

    "far north", Defined as somewhere between 20 and 40km above brussels, seeing as after that the netherlands starts ^.^

    Just to put it in perspective for you US guys who tend to work in larger distances.

     



  • @stratos said:

    Just to put it in perspective for you US guys who tend to work in larger distances.
     

    It does do that when one realizes a certain festival near the south border of a different country is technically closer than one's own mum.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @stratos said:

    "far north", Defined as somewhere between 20 and 40km above brussels,
    seeing as after that the netherlands starts ^.^

    Just to put it in perspective for you US guys who tend to work in larger distances.

    Can't find where it's from; google isn't helping:

    200 miles: Long distance for a european.
    200 years: Long time for an American.


  • @PJH said:

    200 miles: Long distance for a european.

    200 years: Long time for an American.
     

    I think the usual quote is sth like "An American thinks 100 years is a long time, and an Englishman
    thinks 100 miles is a long distance
    ." Very recognisable, yes.



  • @Xyro said:

    Is the splitting of Belgium a fairly mainstream idea then?  Some of the news articles suggested that in the past it was a goal only pushed by political extremists, but of course if that guy got all the votes it must not be.   XIU, what would you like to happen?  Who did you vote for?

    Also, are there well-defined boarders between Flanders and Wallonia?

    Bit late to this discussion but I have plenty to say about it. I can't answer you questions separately because everything is tied closely together

    I think that splitting Belgium is slowly becoming an acceptable political view in Flanders, but it's not really mainstream yet. About 30% of Flemish voted NVA (Flemish are 60% of the Belgian population). The reason that such a low number is significant is because of the fractioned voting system we have here. Only Walloons can vote for Walloon politicians and Flemish people can only vote for Flemish politicians. Many years ago there used to be national political parties, but now every party is split in two based on language. So we effectively need 7 or 8 parties (Flemish majority + Walloon majority) instead of 3 (Belgian majority - like it used to be) to create a government. Flanders usually votes right-wing and Wallonia usually votes left-wing.

    So the borders in Belgium between regions are very well defined and correspond to the language distribution of the time when it was created. French speaking in Wallonia, Dutch speaking in Flanders, bilingual in Brussels. Since then people have moved around and a lot of French speaking Walloons have moved to Flanders without learning Dutch (e.g. to cities Halle, Vilvoorde, ...). So because the language border doesn't really mean anything anymore, the Belgian goverment has created "communities". Now regions correspond to territory and communities correspond to language. And since they do not coincide it effectively gives French speaking politicians the right to -for example- fund French speaking schools in Flanders enforcing their beliefs that Walloons don't have to speak the language of the local people.

    The Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (in BHV) issue is because of an exception to the general rules that people can only vote for regional politicians. Although Halle and Vilvoorde are part of the Flemish region, the people vote for politicians of the Brussels region. In practice this means that the people in Halle and Vilvoorde have to vote for the mainly French speaking politicians in Brussels, instead of the Dutch speaking policitians in Flanders. Obviously this is great for one group but no so great for the other. This exception to the rule has now been deemed unconstitutional by Belgiums highest court, meaning that the politicians must resolve this exception. And that's were the problem is: Dutch speaking politicians believe that citizens of Halle and Vilvoorde should be voting for them by reducing BHV to effectively only B(russels). French speaking politicians believe that adding more communities (both from Wallonia and Flanders equally) to BHV is the solution.

    Due to this issue Belgium hasn't had a decent government for years now and people in Flanders are starting to believe that the Belgium system doesn't work. Belgian politics used to be based on compromise between the two communities, but neither community now seems to be willing to do that. Flemish people believe that shifting more power to the regions can solve a lot of problems. (Why find a Belgian solution if Flanders and Wallonia have different problems. A compromise is a solution where BOTH parties are unhappy). Walloon people believe that taking power away from the regions and giving it to the Belgian Federal state will solve the problems. Of course, the Flemish feel that the Walloons only want to be part of Belgium because they benefit the most from the current situation. About 75% of the taxes is paid by the Flemish (the richer community) but most of the unemployment benefits are paid out to Walloons (the poorer community). Or investments in infrastructure are 50-50 leading to lack of funds in Flanders to do useful stuff while the Walloons blow the money on prestigious projects like the Ronquires inclined plane

    I'm going to leave it with this. If anyone cares about this, I'm more than happy to add more in future posts



  • @b_redeker said:

    @PJH said:

    200 miles: Long distance for a european.

    200 years: Long time for an American.
     

    I think the usual quote is sth like "An American thinks 100 years is a long time, and an Englishman
    thinks 100 miles is a long distance
    ." Very recognisable, yes.

    And since I've already rezzed this thread: my hometown celebrated it's 2000th birthday in 1985.



  • @bjolling said:

    my hometown celebrated it's 2000th birthday in 1985.
     

    You may have forgotten the part where you actually mention your home town.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @dhromed said:

    @bjolling said:

    my hometown celebrated it's 2000th birthday in 1985.
     

    You may have forgotten the part where you actually mention your home town.

    Google suggests Austria. Or "Our Lady"



  • @dhromed said:

    @bjolling said:

    my hometown celebrated it's 2000th birthday in 1985.
     

    You may have forgotten the part where you actually mention your home town.

     

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say Hoeselt.
    Small village that has more or less been there at least since roman time.

    Of course that's absolutely nothing, wikipedia told me that the village of Spy in belgium might have had human inhabitants in some way or another since 30,000 BC
    So they would be celibrating their 32,010 year birthday somewhere this year ;)



  • @stratos said:

    @dhromed said:

    @bjolling said:

    my hometown celebrated it's 2000th birthday in 1985.
     

    You may have forgotten the part where you actually mention your home town.

     

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say Hoeselt.
    Small village that has more or less been there at least since roman time.

    Very close. I was born and raised in Tongeren. And keeping in line with my post on the Belgian situation: you can see on the Wikipedia page it is listed as a part of Belgium, the Flemish Region, the Flemish Community and the Province of Limburg. Every single one of these levels has some kind of a government. Belgium, the Flemish region and the Flemish community even have parliaments. Luckily in Flanders we have merged the Flemish parliaments into a single one, but that's not the case in Wallonia. The Walloons are trying to fight unemployment by making everyone a politician or a least a government employee.

    I'm very jealous of a city like New York where apparently more than 8 million people can be governed by only a mayor, a state government and a federal government. In Belgium (almost 11 million) we need about 4 governments, 6 parliaments, 10 governors (provincial level) and about 600 mayors.


    @stratos said:

    Of course that's absolutely nothing, wikipedia told me that the village of Spy in belgium might have had human inhabitants in some way or another since 30,000 BC
    So they would be celibrating their 32,010 year birthday somewhere this year ;)

    Yes, but they forgot to officially found a town.


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