Belgian Crisis: Tit For Tat

Belgium’s Francophone political parties are retaliating at the decision of their Flemish counterparts recently to overrule them on the issue of the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde constituency (BHV), which threw another spanner in the already stalling attempts to form a new Belgian government.

The French-speakers have vowed not to negotiate the BHV issue as long as the Flemish regional government refuses to endorse three mayors in Flemish-speaking councils, the election of whom was declared invalid by the Flemish authorities because French had been spoken in the preceding debates. The Flemish, in return, claim only to follow the local rules known to all in the communities, where language is such a sensible issue that officially Flemish-speaking communes are required by law only to speak Flemish on all public matters, including relations to the general public.

The appointment of the mayors of the communes of Linkebeek, Wezembeek-Oppem and Kraainem – all close to Brussels and along the border of the nation’s language divide – was effectively overruled by the minister responsible for such matters in the Flemish regional government. Yesterday, he reiterated his standpoint, only to immediately be accused of violating democracy, as the French-speakers point to the fact that the mayors were elected representatives of the people whose decision must be honoured.

The weekend is otherwise expected to be somewhat of a cooling off period, with a manifestation in support of a unified Belgium at one of the country’s biggest national monuments in Brussels on Sunday as the most notable event. However, as mentioned in previous blog posts, the king, Albert II, will expect some progress by next week on the crisis management, and it will be very interesting to see what will happen if no progress has been made by then.

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