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The interesting example of Belgium

One hundred and three days after their general election, life goes on in Belgium. People go to work, they meet their friends, the beer is world class, the food is good, folks go about life as they always have. And there is still no government.

Hopefully the country will provide an inspirational example to the rest of the EU and split under the pressure caused by increasing Flemish unwillingness to pay the parasitic leftists who dominate Wallonia. Of course things might get messy but more likely it will be a velvet divorce… but the really interesting thing for me is that society and the economy continues to function just fine without any active government at all. No new laws, no cabinet meetings, and yet somehow the sky has not caved in and the world keeps turning.

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20 comments to The interesting example of Belgium

  • Quite simply,politicians are people who bugger things up whilst the rest of us make the world work.Why haven’t we realised these “know nothings” are an impediment to civilisation,democratic politics were a substitute for raising armies and fighting for power,since th present tranche of politicians couldn’t lead a kazoo band,why not dispense with the lot of them?

  • Steevo

    Lets just hope another stupid freedom-loving journo doesn’t post a Mohammad cartoon.

  • veryretired

    Oh, God, if they would just adjourn for most of the year and not pass any more stupid, needless, expensive, intrusive, and counterproductive laws, what a blessing it would be.

    It always fascinates me that so many people, and especially the pols themselves, really believe that if they didn’t go through their expensive and pointless legislative/administrative/judicial dance about everything and anything that’s hot on the nightly news “crisis-o-meter”, society would be innundated with insoluble catastrophes 24 hours a day until they deigned to save us from ourselves with some more incomprehensible legal gobbledegook enabling legislation empowering more meddliong beaurocrats to devise another maze of rules and regulations which cause more problems and expense for ordinary citizens and taxpayers than any of the alleged “crises” ever could have.

    Sheesh. I think I’m channeling Dennis Miller. Help!

    My mind has left my body.

  • Midwesterner

    Mr Martens says: “We are the centre of the European Union. How could we give such a bad example to all the member states if we were to split?”

    Did anybody else get a little frisson of glee when they read that paragraph?

  • cutaway

    As a Scots Nationalist I’m following events in Belgium with interest. Smaller governments have less room to hide; in such a situation free trade and free markets can only flourish.

  • RAB

    Did anybody else get a little frisson of glee when they read that paragraph?

    Yes me!
    I am not a Welsh Nationalist though cutaway.
    This further tier of fourth rate politico tossers clamped on the same public tit as the morons in Westminister sucking soup out of my pocket is the last thing I need!
    Mixed metaphores, Who Me?

  • dover_beach

    A truely conservative politics is a most radical idea nowadays. The idea that governments should amend current arrangements only where the circumstances are truely pressing is beyond the mental discipline of most politicans and what amounts to the political class.

    In Oz, we’re entering the dawn of an election campaign and the silliest expectation (there are a number) at least to my mind is the requirement that the current government must proclaim a new vision. What we have nowadays is messanic/ prophetic politics. The electorate must become captivated by a new vision and possibly hypnotized by it. These new visions require a current crisis and their successors, of course, a crisis around the corner, and the media are expert in cultivating crisis for public consumption.

    And what this means for current arrangements is increasing incoherence as politicians pursue each passing whim as if it were either their last chance of salvation or the lastest opportunity to extend their power.

    The fewer sitting days the better.

  • walt moffett

    I believe it proves the Civil Service more powerful than the Government. Sir Humphrey is now collecting from the Minister.

  • HJHJ

    I remember Tony Blair making a comment once and he finished with “and I’m running the country”.

    The problem is that politicians really do think they’re running the country. It’s amazing – Blair wasn’t running anything (he was a lawyer and they have no experience running any sort of organisation other than their closed shop). Were I to become prime minister (unlikely) I would start by making it quite clear that it’s everyone else in the country who is actually running the place and that it would be my job just to keep out of the way as far as possible.

    Incidentally, I used to live and work in Belgium. Were it to split, it would be rather messy – the split between Flanders and Wallonia is not exactly neat as there are french speaking communes in Flanders and Dutch speaking communes in Wallonia. Brussels is completely jumbled – traditionally a Flemish city but most people speak French (as it was the traditional language of government)

  • Anomenat

    I always liked Lionel Snell’s definition of a political problem: “A problem that, if ignored, will go away on its own.”

  • Seeing as I suspect 80% of the laws of Belgium are from the EU anyway, it is not the case that laws are not being passed.

    I think the EU is rubbing its hands with glee. They now have two “regions” ripe for the picking without a pesky national government in the way. I am sure they are already playing to the ego of Alex Salmond. Another region dans la sac. Another pesky national government weakened.

    The EU is a massive sow and has teats aplenty until the trough is big enough.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Cutaway – if you really think free markets and free trade would flourish in an “independent”* Scotland, then I have a bridge you might be interested in buying.

    * “Independent” in SNP terms means of course, remaining a member of the EU – ie, not independent or self-governing in any meaningful sense of those words.

  • cutaway

    Hi Andrew:

    Where is it and how much are you wanting?

    More seriously, these things are all relative. Of course independence will entail leaving one Union and promptly entering an even bigger one, at least in the short-term. I don’t think Scotland would be any worse off in this scenario than it is already, however.

    Salmond notwithstanding, there are several very good arguments for “doing a Norway” and entering a looser confederation with the rest of Europe after independence. Additionally, Scots are finally beginning to wake up to the fact that a tartan-clad DPRK-alike socialist paradise is not the best way to run a state – we need to encourage foreign investment and allow home-grown businesses to strengthen further.

  • guy herbert

    The Czech Republic has been managing quite nicely without a government for a while, too.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a vast government in Belguim (endless taxes and government spending) – it is just that the polticians who did fairly well in the last election are still being kept out of office.

    Although I doubt that any of even the Flemish political parties would get out of the E.U. – which, as mentioned above, is real source for ove 80% of all new regulations.

  • marc in calgary

    103 days!
    What luck those Belgians are having…
    how long can it last? before the need to “repair the damage”?
    Does anyone think that at some point they (gov’t) may just throw in the towel and proclaim freedom for all?
    It’s almost too much to hope for.

  • I bounced the off a Flanders native for his opinion; he writes:

    Well, before all the libertarians start partying about this confirmation that a country can do fine without government:

    – we have six governments, and only one is in flux;
    – the “retiring” federal government can still do daily house keeping;
    – we have heaps of government agencies, quango’s and other structures that’ll happily keep on running their daily tasks;

    until next year, as we’ll need a new government to approve next year’s budget…

    (Aside, life is a lot more complex than “Flemish unwillingness to pay the parasitic leftists who dominate Wallonia”)

    …if there is interest, I can ask him to elucidate?

  • Richard Beddall

    Belgium may split, so what, they will all still be governed from Brussels.
    If Scotland breaks away the same will aply to them.
    When will these dozy people wake up to the fact that Brussels is now the seat of government for all EU states.

  • Its a fascinating topic, with fat implications for the continent. Scotland is only Britain’s example, there are separatist regions from Catalonia to Kosovo, and this is the first major secession crisis in the EU itself.

    I’ve written quite a substantial piece on the whole topic over at Little Man, What Now. Go read.

  • Paul Marks


    The government led by Mr Howard has not done badly in Austalia (there have been bad things, such as the “gun control” measure in 1996 – but overall things have not been bad). Sadly it looks as if the voters will go for people who will reverse the timid labour market reforms of Mr Howard (that tried to restore the law of contract, to some limited extent) and will impose ever more regulations, government spending and taxes.

    If you prefer legislatures to be limited in how many days they sit Texas might suit you (if you have a desire that local government also be limited in how much harm it can do Alabama would be the State).

    As Mark Twain said “no man’s life or property are safe when the legislature is in session”.

    Of course, as the example of Belguim, in these days of delegated legislation (called “Statutory Instuments” in Britain) and a vast administrative structure, there need be no elected government for the government to carry on causing massive harm.