“Beards, fries, but no government…”

Crooked Timber’s Ingrid Robeyns ironically congratulates Belgium on setting a new world record without a government.  As, indeed, do the Belgian people…  250 days and counting!  Here’s a short CNN interview with Flemish comedian Geert Hoste

And from a Guardian report

On Thursday the word in Brussels was there would be fresh elections in April, a ballot likely to entrench the divide, deepen the crisis of political accountability and legitimacy, and result in yet further months of government-less squabbling.

There is no talk of royal abdication. There are few signs of Belgium breaking up. But nor is there any sense of direction, of how to escape from deepening division, of how to restructure a balkanised political system which encourages paralysis.

The country is prosperous and well-run bureaucratically. The caretaker Leterme government has just accomplished a smooth and much-praised presidency of the European Union.

So does it matter?

“Everything goes on in the same old way,” said Cocquyt. “It’s better not having a government. Besides the trouble with democracy is it is so slow. If we want to build a new road, it takes us 20 years to decide. The Chinese dictatorship does it the next day.”

With endless coalition negotiations thoroughly bogged down since last June, the Swiss model was proposed at Ghent University – turning the country into a “Belgian Union”, a confederation of four parastates – Brussels, Flanders, Wallonia, and the small German-speaking area in the east.

The other novel proposal aired was that Belgium should receive the Balkan treatment, its squabbles handed over to an international envoy to sort out, as its own leaders appear congenitally incapable of resolving the problem.Thursday was a day of satire, surrealism, and irony, with Belgium’s politicians the butt of the joke, not yet of the anger.

It could be worse… 

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  • Cynic2

    How much we could save if we followed the example

  • Drumlins Rock

    Cynic, will work ok for a while, but then some “talented” civil servant will come along and call himself chief Caligrapher or whatever without any real checks to his power… fanciful I know but democracy has it purpose. Personally I think they should just abolish Belgium and divide it amonst the neighbours.

  • Solution: shut down all 600 breweries until the politicians reach an agreement!

  • tinman


    Nice solution, straight from Lysistrata (well almost). Of course, when we couldn’t decide who was in charge we spent 30 years blowing one another up. So “Let’s be a bit cross and have some moules-frites” may not be such a bad plan.