So basically the irresponsible elected politicians want to take away the few political powers of the one man who has used his hereditary position with responsibility in this theatrical political joke that sees no end. And at the margins of these political discussions, of course, lurks the debate on the usefulness of the monarchy. “A monarchy is a remnant from the Middle Ages; in a modern country like Belgium we don’t need that,” is an argument. Yes, I agree a monarchy is a remnant from the Middle Ages. But unlike many others, I am perfectly aware that the current Belgian king does not have the same political power enjoyed by a king in the Middle Ages. Quite the contrary. The only political prerogative the King still has, at the moment, is to appoint a formateur and informateur after the elections. He has no influence on the elections. He is not even allowed to vote. He has no influence on the government negotiations, except when the politicians themselves make such a mess of it that he has to conjure one white rabbit after another out of his fictional crown. Even then, he doesn’t get involved in the negotiations personally, he simply sends experienced negotiators and respected elder statesmen into the field to act as mine-clearers in the hopes of persuading the politicians to come to an agreement. He has never tried to influence the negotiations in any particular direction, he only listens to the whining of the party leaders hoping that another white rabbit will appear.
“The monarchy costs us over € 15 million a year” is another argument. I suppose I cannot refute that, as the dotations alone amount to almost 80% of that figure. “A President would be so much cheaper,” the argument continues. No, (s)he wouldn’t. Presidents need to be elected, which costs money. Who do the republicans think pays for that? Presidents receive a very nice yearly salary. And then they retire and they receive a pension based on that nice salary. And who pays for that? For all the ex-presidents receiving pensions simultaneously? And would the household of a President really be so much cheaper than that of a king? Do the people who use this argument realise that the King pays his staff from that dotation? Do they realise that Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent receive a dotation because they were not encouraged, or even allowed, to work in the first place? Of course not.
“Albert is not king of all Belgians, he is king of the French-speaking half,” is another widespread argument amongst the republicans. Ridiculous. Yes, he is a native French-speaker, but he speaks Flemish better than many Flemish speak French. Basically those people are just letting their dislike of anything francophone get the better of them. Can you really blame a man for being brought up in a predominantly French environment? I think not. And can you, really, blame someone for not being good at studying foreign languages? It is true that the Dutch of Queen Paola is poor – but then again also comparable to the French of so many Flemish. And contrary to many of those Flemish, she keeps trying to learn the language better, even at the respectable age of 73. Let me ask those ardent republicans a question now. Would an elected President be President of all the Belgians? Would (s)he not be, after all, either a native French-speaker or a native Dutch-speaker? Would the Flemish ever really see Elio Di Rupo as “their” Belgian President? Would the Walloons ever accept De Wever as “their” elected Belgian President? For those two received most votes in the past elections… it would have had to be one of them. Or will we make it even more complicated and have a duumvirate, a politician from each of the two groups? They would work together every bit as well as they’re working together now, which is to say not at all. Or why not a triumvirate; after all, the German-speaking part of the population of Belgium is so often overlooked…(Read full article)