Friday, May 11, 2012
Nationality and the Belgian Monarchy
Michael Palo thoughtfully reviews Belgium and the Monarchy: from National Independence to National Disintegration, an adapted English translation of Herman van Goethem's book De monarchie en ‘het einde van België’: Een communautaire geschiedenis van Leopold I tot Albert II. I must admit, however, that I did not like the reviewer's vaguely ominous comments about the intentions of Leopold III. While discussing his Political Testament, Palo claims that the King "had done nothing less than outline an authoritarian future for his country." This suggests that the Political Testament was a call to change the Belgian Constitution radically along authoritarian lines, which it was not. In fact, in the same document, Leopold noted that his role, as a constitutional monarch, did not allow him to take sides with one political doctrine or program or another. Rather, he said, it was for the Belgian people, freely consulted, to decide upon any possible changes to the political structure of the kingdom.