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The Belgian miracle: a provisional government that lasts…

(Published in Ouest-France / April 23, 2011) A year ago the government of Yves Leterme was in disarray, victim of a resignation of the Liberals. This provoked early elections. A year later, the same ones are still there. In a provisional way… But a temporary one that lasts. A serious denial to those who predicted the end of Belgium.

Where does this miracle come from? Belgium is a Kingdom, decentralized, and conservative. A large part of the competences is exercised at the level of the regions (Flanders, Brussels, Wallonia) and municipalities. The June 2010 elections led to changes on the political scene. But there is still a majority of 83 deputies out of 150 to support the government. The King exercises a certain role and is, despite all criticism, respected. 

Is Belgium doing so badly? Economic growth is 2%, one of the best in the Euro zone. The public deficit is shrinking faster than expected (3,6% this year). The 2011 budget was passed thanks to a constitutional sleight of hand; the King having asked the government to act. On the international side, Belgium assumed the presidency of the European Union last year, without hesitation and even successfully. And it even joined forces with the French and British in Libya, being one of the few countries to authorize strikes. However, all is not so well. The main decisions (reforms, appointments, subsidies) are blocked.

What's the problem ? The N-VA, the autonomist party, occupies a dominant position on the Flemish political scene with 30% of the votes. Its leader Bart de Wever plays for time, saying yes one day, no the next. Meanwhile, his former ally and current rival, the Christian Democrat, Yves Leterme, remains in power. One more paradox

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).