torsdag 24 februari 2011

Lack of government in EU-capital celebrated

On February 17th 2011, Belgium matched the record for a country without government, previously held by Iraq, which was hence surpassed the day after. The process of deciding on who will govern the country, and indeed what country to govern, is still ongoing and the new informateur, Finance minister Didier Reynders, has his next deadline with the King already on March 1st to try and report some progress.

The record breaking accomplishment of not being able to form a democratic government was "celebrated" by some Belgians in the countrys capital Brussels. The most vocal and visible action on the day was a group of 249 students in the university town of Ghent who stripped down to their underwear to show our "common naked humanity" in protest against the efforts by some groups to separate the northern Flemish part and the southern Walloon part of the country. The picture above was taken by me outside the Palais de Justice during the preparations for the Brussels-version of the manifestations.

The movement to support the cohesion of the country and a resolution regarding government formation uses the slogan "Not in our name" and uses the Belgian flag as a symbol of national cohesion.

Though it is deeply tragic and problematic for the country not having resolved their government formation, it is interesting to observe the dynamics that are created when nationalist forces are pitted against forces that argue for cooperation and cohesion. On the one hand the situation surely provokes many to feel apathetic to the role of government and politics whatsoever, but on the other, this drawn out process of political insecurity surely has sparked some measure of interest in politics as well.

It remains to be seen what government Belgium will have. One thing is certain, it will need to deal with the consequences of taking power in the wake of such a shameful record, and it will need to raise a whole lot of trust with the entire belgian people regarding the democratic process and electoral politics in general.

/Ola Nilsson

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