On June 10th, 2007 there was a general election in the country of Belgium. I know this because my husband voted by absentee ballot and I remember him mailing it off when he was still living in Florida. Also, Wikipedia reminded me.
From June 10th, 2007 to March 24th(ish) 2008, the country of Belgium could not decide on a Prime Minister. Which, as an American, seemed strange and odd to me, only because…hadn’t they just had an election? Well, yes. To elect a party to the majority, who then have to elect a prime minister. For as many years as I can figure, the Flemish (hackhackcough) have been in the majority power. I think. I request that if you know more about this, please by all means, correct me!
Belgium has been, it has been said “a country that works better in practice than theory”. Kind of like how you fly: jump, and miss the ground. It seems that Belgium has finally found the ground, but the squishy bits are… trying to still fly?
On March 24th, 2008 after 9 months (or a human gestational period), the government finally made a choice, Yves Leterme.
This is a man who has made no false pretenses about his belief that the Flemish should be more autonomous and shares the view of many Flemish about the “poor” Wallonian province. While many Flemish believe that the French province is slowly sinking into financial ruin, it is all tit-for-tat because the roles were reversed in the mid1900s, when the southern Francophones were wealthy from steel and still living off of charcoal riches. Cities like Charleroi, whicn even my french-speaking husband admits “is rough, and they don’t speak properly” was once one of the richest cities in the province, having had tons of steel mills and mined the surrounding charcoal deposits. “Charcoal Mountains” can still be seen around the city, and if you dig 1-2meters down, semi precious stones are beginning to form in the hot coals.
He also believes that the French should adopt and learn Flemish, yet he himself cannot even remember the tune to the National song, and has claimed that the Walloons are incapable of learning Dutch.
But the problem is the pendulum swings and problems arise. There is a belief that things stay the same, but they don’t. If Belgium falls apart, what are we do to? People forget that the reason many of the people living in Flanders now live there is because they fled from the persecution in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, over 53% are still Protestant, 28% identify as Catholic, and the remainder did not identify a religion (Wikipedia). I could not find the numbers on the Flemish stats, so my argument will end here, for now.
And all this would not have been interesting to me 18 months ago. But we decided to move to Belgium. Ironically, December 2007, I looked at my husband and said “If you country doesn’t have a government, I’m not moving!” I poked fun the other day after the Prime Minister quit, saying that they can’t even agree when someone wants to quit.
For all the chocolate and windmills and beautiful flowers, this country has a lot of issues. And I’ll be damned if I’m gonna live in France.