Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else) In Ten Easy Lessons


(Picture : PhotoNews)

At first I was having a laugh about everything that happened at the so- called government formation talks since the last elections. But I’m not laughing anymore, as day after day, it becomes crystal clear that Flanders and Wallonia are digging their political trenches instead of trying to find common ground. A recap…


… is what our current formation leader and CD&V spearhead Yves Leterme said in a pre-election interview the… Wallonian media. Having allied themselves with the Flemish nationalist/separatist party NV-A (no, not the Viet Cong, but Nieuwe Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance)) in a cartel – not to traffic drugs from Colombia, but to win elections, which they did – the CD&V created unrest in Wallonia, where the politicians firmly said they would never accept Leterme – who is half Walloon by way of his father – as prime minister, because he demanded the in Wallonia much dreaded state reform, which would divide federal funding and authorities for several departments – like social security, something that doesn’t sit well in Wallonia, where unemployment is rife – to the regions. Walloons persistently present this state reform as ?a hollowing out of the federal structure’. Furthermore, he made the statement above, which resulted in a media witch hunt where everything Leterme says is being perceived as an anti-walloon and anti national government sentiment. Try to lead formation talks that way…


Everything Leterme says and does is scrutinized. Take, for instance, the fact that a TV journalist from RTBF asked him on the national holiday (July 21st ) if he knew the national anthem and if he could sing it. In response, Leterme sang… La Marseillaise . Huge cause for consternation down South, as ?Leterme doesn’t even know the ?Brabançonne’ is our national anthem, so he doesn’t care about this country!’.

EDIT December 6th 2008 by pengovsky: video removed by YouTube

The incriminating clipFact : 99% of the Belgian populace DO NOT KNOW THEIR OWN NATIONAL ANTHEM. Could have something to do with the fact that it’s not a drinking song (which I find infinitely cooler, kudos Slovenija!), but in fact, Flemings and Walloons only come together as Belgians at sports manifestations. It went so far that the Belgian Football (that is soccer to y’all Yanks :P) Association instructed the players for the national team to learn the lyrics by heart because they could be seen mumbling something or other or not moving their lips altogether when the national anthem was played before the matches (but they keep losing anyway :twisted:). So while Leterme probably doesn’t differ from his fellow countrymen on both sides of the language border, his leadership capabilities are as much in question in Wallonia as Bill Clinton’s were during the Lewinsky Affair. The long and short of it is that in neither case their leadership capabilities should be questioned, because they have nothing to do with it.

There is no way of knowing just yet, but there is a real crisis. The Wallonian politicians find the Flemish demands for thorough state reform unacceptable, especially the aforementioned social security as well as fiscality (it is true that Wallonian policy makers are a bit more, erm, creative when it comes to taxes and more lenient toward those ducking them). So they launched a counter proposition, in which among other things they wanted to redefine the position of Flemings in Brussel (read : they want Brussels to become part of Wallonia with Flemings reduced to requiring special facilities, just like the francophones in the Flemish suburbs surrounding the nation’s capital.). Even a blind person can see that hell will freeze over three times before the Flemish politicians allow this.

So what is going to happen next? In a surprise move, king Albert II has returned from his holiday and will have talks with representatives of all parties involved in the government formation. This, to my knowledge at least, has never happened before in Belgium’s history. As I stated in a former post, the king’s role is restricted and he isn’t allowed to interfere in political affairs. That it would take such a move to defuse this crisis is a grave indication that all is not well over here. Everybody keeps acting as if the elephant isn’t in the room, but it’s there. The elephant in question is the undoing of this country. What was a mockumentary that had two thirds of Wallonia scared shitless is now threatening to become real (and the mockumentary itself reinforced the belief down South that Flemings are all separatists, which doesn’t help the present situation; thanks RTBF!).

But we’re not there yet. And I personally believe Belgium will at least continue to exist until the next national elections which is, if all goes well, in five years. But the stage is set. While I may be accused of predicting doom, I find it very feasible that even now a civil war could break out if the negotiations take too long. People are following this on both sides of the language border, they listen to their own versions of what’s going on through their own media and all it would take is one wrong word out of the mouth of a Fleming to a Wallonian or vice versa. The reason why I say this, is because we have the extreme nationalist party Vlaams Belang, who took lessons from their Nazi counterparts and could instigate riots just the same as the NSDAP did in the 30’s when Germany was in an unstable political and economical state. I worry about this, as they’ve been keeping unnaturally quiet lately. Even so, with or without civil war, I am very certain that what the picture above portrays will happen sometime in the not so distant future. Can I apply for asylum in Slovenija now? 😉


Published by


Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

23 thoughts on “Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else) In Ten Easy Lessons”

  1. Took lessons from their Nazi counterparts? I guess you’ve been reading either De Morgen or too many Walloon newspapers, or you simply have no clue about what you’re talking about. Except the civil war thingy. What you forgot to mention is the linguistic border, touch that and you may have a civil war on your hands. That is basically what the Walloon counterclaim is, expansion of Brussels Capital Region to weaken the Linguistic border so as to annex it sooner or later. (Or so some of us think).

  2. Pingback:
  3. @Briggs: Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page: I (pengovsky) am not the author of series of posts about Belgium. They are written by my good friend and provider of the Good Stuff dr. ARF – I just post them, as he’s still sitting on the fence about whether to become a “real” blogger 😉

    Personally I find his posts extraordinarly interesting and look forward to them every Saturday (well, Friday, as I get to read them in advance ;)), but I will leave it to him to answer your comment.

  4. What a biased article… after so much time, this article could have been better documented.
    A bit like the thing Leterme alledgedly said in the French press. He didn’t say it like that: he asked the question whether that was true, or whether people were not willing? Still strong language, but not really what was written down here.
    Also not mentioned: President of the Walloon government (Van Cau) claims that the French (-speaking) culture is far superior to the Dutch (-speaking) culture. Also a sort of language that could have come from the German National Socialist party… or doesn’t it?
    And there’s still so much more to write about this subject

  5. I can’t even be arsed to reply to comments of people who have their own heads up their arses far enough to be oblivious to the fact that a) the title and the intention of this guest post, besides being my personal view on Belgium, is tongue in cheek and definitely not the whole story and get off on the fact they can stir controversy and b) one is obviously an extreme right apologist/advocate, and therefore isn’t open to respectful discussion and disagreement with respect towards other viewpoints than his. Neither of them even took the time to read the other posts; so much for being informed about this guest post. Well, at least you’ve given the readers here ample proof of some of the things I’ve been saying here…

  6. Of course it could have been documented better, Mike. But this is a SHORT piece and therefore as accurate as I can do it without making people yawn. And I’m not into the whole ‘he said, she said’ bullshit; all I wanted to do was to present a short recap, not even all that serious, about the stuck formation negotiations, NOT to do a political analysis. I leave that to those who give a damn. Biased? Towards whom? I slag off Leterme as much as I do the Walloons. Why? Because, ultimately, I despise politics. ALL politics. Mmm, that IS biased, isn’t it? Well, I’m proud of being biased towards politics.


  7. Arf Arf you’re not predicting doom, you are announcing a Brand New Morning!

    Doesn’t it PIQUE that you can’t blog in French if you want to inform more than a bunch of hangbacks?

    I guess the Slovenes will exactly know how the Flemish feel. After all they have an independence struggle (and war) behind them against an oppressive minority in their country too.

    The Slovenes for sure will have been called names by the serves too before they could go their own way.

    “The reason why I say this, is because we have the extreme nationalist party Vlaams Belang, who took lessons from their Nazi counterparts and could instigate riots just the same as the NSDAP did in the 30’s when Germany was in an unstable political and economical state”

    I hope these are lies on purpose. I can’t believe anyway that you believe this yourself.

    “I worry about this, as they’ve been keeping unnaturally quiet lately”
    Strange, hmmm…for such a violent and aggressive party?
    Maybe, just maybe, they DO want a peaceful split?

  8. Arf, you misquoted (deliberately?) Y. Leterme, he actually said:”Apparently French speaking people in ‘De Rand’ (= ‘Flemish region surrounding Brussels’) are intellectually not capable of learning Dutch.”

    By leaving out the “apparently” and generalising it to “Walloons” you created a far more aggressive statement.
    It was an ironic statement (or ment to be so) referring to the fact that in the ’60 and ’70 the French speaking politicians agreed to a deal in which temporary measures where installed to make the transition easier towards the acceptance of Dutch as the official language in that part of the country. These temporary meassures have become apparently a vested right.
    It was obvious very naive to make such a statement in a pre-election time.

  9. OK, people, I realize that this is a very touchy subject for many Belgians and I’m sure I’d be equally sensitive in your position, but please, keep in mind that this is not a wikipedia entry, but rather a point of view of one person, whom I respect greatly and went to great pains to persuade to start this series of guest posts.

    I do urge you to read the rest of ARF’s posts before forming any and all judgements about him and his texst. Also, please note that this blog in utimately about raising one’s blood pressure (if you haven’t done so yet, please check out the “Meat” and “Skin” sections), so you might want to take it easy on spewing flames and sulphur on a countryman of yours who has enlightened the visitors of this blog with information about Belgium – until ARF came along, most of us saw images of chocolate, paedophiles and eurocracy when someone said “Belgium”. Not anymore, and it’s all thanks to ARF.

  10. @ Arf

    You’re a moron!

    @ Pengovky

    You can use the fact you didn’t write the article yourself as an excuse but since you’re posting it… that makes you a moron too!

    Although I think you did write it!

  11. @Vlaming: you’re right… I wrote the article all by myself. I’m actually a Vallonian in disguise, who emigrated to Slovenia because I couldn’t take it anymore… The fact that noone wants to learn French and everyone seems to speak Flemish was just too much for me to take and I ran for cover to a god-forsaken country which turned out to be just as full of nit-wits and people who are emotionally retarded as any other country in the world. So I guess we’re not all that different, you and I…. It takes a moron to recognize a moron, eh? 😉

  12. Pengovsky: We’re replying specific to this post. I’m aware that Arf is a different person than you, but it was posted here and not on his proper blog otherwise we would have commented there. He should become a ‘real blogger’.

    The post was good, except the element that I quoted and responded upon. Or am I not entitled to respond to that Arf?

    As to your reply/comment ARF:
    A) Does it bother you that people comment on your opinion?
    B) “one is obviously an extreme right apologist/advocate”. I hope you’re not talking about me. That doesn’t sound quite respectful discussion to me. For your information, I’m a political scientist. We’re responding to this post, not the previous ones and I’m only responding to one small aspect of it and adding an additional element to point out which conflict point could lead to civil war.

  13. PS: I have read the other articles. Since when is Front Nationale a Flemish extreme right party? (Lesson V).

  14. Hmpff.. sleeping with Pengovsky does entice nightmares apparently.

    Dr. Dré’s “easy” lessons for the Slovenians fit into a very long hateful, racist and diabolizing tradition of the French-speaking minority in Belgium. They still think they are the ruling oligarchy.

    All to often, they present the outside world with a very diabolical view of the Flemish hard-working majority that sponsors them.

    Flemish independence? Separation? It happened before in 1830 when rattachists, paid by France, forced an illegal separation from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The rest of Flanders only knew 3 weeks later that they suddenly became “Belgian” by a violent coup. Not much democracy there.

    So let’s just do it, a smooth and velvet separation, and fast. Getting rid of Belgium is like going to the dentist. Too long postponed, but once it’s done, you wonder how you could have stood the pain for so long.

    More on: (with links and photos)

  15. hey there – just to let you know that through rss-delicious black magic a link to this post is displayed on This far this collaborative blog has “only” been bilingual but by all means feel free to register : it will give you author privilege. And I’m this close to ask you permission to reproduce this post on said blog…


  16. @Briggs: Thank you for noticing the difference. Apparently the clarification was necesary as some other commentator still don’t see it.

    You are of course entitled to answer Arf’s comments – or any other comments for that matter. If I thought otherwise I would have disabled commenting, no? 😉

    Re: Front Nationale: If we’re all thinking of the same organisation, then it is indeed a Waloonian and not Flemish far-right organisation (its Flemish “equivalent” on the political spectrum being the Vlaamsblok, as fas as I get it). I’m sure that it was either an honest mistake or that a part of text dropped out… I know Arf as being rather meticolous about this sort of thing.

    @VH: As Briggs already pointed out, this post was not written by a Waloonian. I know it would have been easier that way, but – hey – that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (I always wanted to say that)

    @Somebaudy: You’ll have to get Arf’s permision to do that. I’ll forward your request to him.

  17. Pengovsky: Obviously, but it seems ARF doesn’t like to be commented :). Ah you’ve seen Bruce Almighty huh 🙂

Comments are closed.