Flemish separatists win Belgian election - Macleans.ca

Flemish separatists win Belgian election

A workable coalition government could still be months away


It’s expected to be months before politicians in seemingly ungovernable Belgium figure out a way to cobble together their disparate parties into a workable coalition. Flemish nationalists finished with the most seats (27 of the country’s 150) in the country’s general elections, finishing one seat ahead of the French-speaking socialists. The election dropped the ruling Christian Democrats to fourth place. Whatever hodge-podge government does end up coming together will have to deal with Belgium’s near-crippling level of debt. With the third-highest debt relative to gross domestic product in the euro region, Belgium will need to cut spending or raise taxes by 8.7 billion euros in the next two years to lower its budget deficit to less than 3 percent of GDP.


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Flemish separatists win Belgian election

  1. You know your politics are fragmented when one party wins a plurality with only 18% of the seats. Wow.
    Maybe separation really is the way to go in a case like this.

    • I disagree. Belgian politics are divided by a bad institutional design. Some seats are set aside for voters of different linguistic groups. As a result, parties have less incentive to build cross-linguistic coalitions. This is aggravated by a PR system. Because party entry is easy in PR, parties need to appeal strongly to their base. In contrast, in our system there are some mixed anglo-franco ridings. In order to hold onto those ridings, the parties contesting them (generally the Liberals – we are talking about Montreal here) need to develop crossover appeal. Typically they do so by emphasizing cleavages other than language.

      If Belgium was a Westminster democracy you would see the emergence of big tent parties. While they probably would be ethnic in character, the need to remain competitive would drive each to enhance their crossover appeal by emphasizing class or ideology in addition to linguistic issues.

      • BVH is mixed 'Riding" but the Fleming want to abolish it. About that Montreal comment… do not forget northern & southeastern New Brunswick, a least one riding in Nova Scotia, Northern and Eastern Ontario and a few ridings hear and there in the west.

        • And Ottawa.