Friday, 23 April 2010

The Belgian Constitutional Crisis Explained with Seasonal Produce*

Words are inadequate to describe the depth, and absurdity, of Belgium's constitutional crisis. So I am using vegetables instead.

Here is Mr Leterme, our most recent Prime Minister. You must understand that there are only 4 people allowed to be Prime Minister in Belgium, which explains why the spectacularly unprepossessing Mr Leterme is on his 86th term of office, despite:

1. Forgetting the national anthem and singing La Marseillaise instead.
2. Calling French Belgians stupid.
3. Behaving in an exceptionally dodgy fashion over the break up of (useless Belgian bank) Fortis, including attempts to influence the judge presiding over the case. And then pretending he hadn't in the manner of an unconvincing 2 year old who hasn't learnt to lie yet.
4. Generally being a bit of a useless dickhead.

Mr Leterme has been heading yet another craptastic coalition of disgruntled lame-ass centrist parties. Here it is:

We are all for variety in the magical kingdom of Belgiana, so we like to have 2 or 3 of these interchangeable groups of centrists forming what they laughably describe as a 'government' a year. The current one has just broken, due to Open VLD, which is a spectacularly dull name for a political party and sounds like an unpleasant medical procedure.

Here are Open VLD. They are puny:

They are cross that the "BHV Question" hasn't been resolved. Dudes. BHV will NEVER be resolved unless BHV is razed and replaced with a second Atomium, or possibly a giant totem to the folly of humankind, made of speculoos.

This is BHV:

It is a tiny parcel of boringness on the outskirts of Brussels which has created constitutional and administrative chaos for years because of linguistic and voting boundaries and zzzzzz I just fell asleep trying to focus on it. I am overcome with ennui. Imagine, Britons, that the government were to fall into bitter infighting and chaos about what language to speak in Neasden. That's the BHV Question. If it were up to me, I'd make them all speak Latin.

Uh oh.

Here come the rabid Flemish Nationalists, Vlaams (spelling corrected at behest of irate commenter) Belang. They have come to further disrupt the government by bursting into parliament to unfurl a flag and SING. Whooo, scary! Given this is their preferred model for protest, you can see why Belgium hasn't ended up like Ulster. This is a Good Thing. Apart from the singing. That isn't a Good Thing at all.

While all this farce continues, King Albert:

who must be thoroughly pissed off with the whole business, deliberates on whether to accept Leterme's resignation, knowing with a heavy heart that he will inevitably be replaced with either Jean-Luc Dehaene or Guy Verhofstadt, Herman Van Rompuy being busy ruling Europe with a rod of, er, endive. All possible Prime Ministers look like this:

Who else could form a government?

(I sat at this point and tried to think of a model of Belgian efficiency and dynamism who could take over the reins of power. It was not fruitful)

1. Maybe some of those female Belgian tennis players.

2. Côte d'Or? No. They are owned by Kraft. Kraft is already trying to mess with my chocolate, I don't need it running my life.

3. Perhaps a return to absolute monarchy? We could get Albert II to wear a curly wig and knee breeches and reinstate feudalism.

4. Dinosaurs. I think on reflection this is probably the best option. I will go back to bed and await further instructions from my lizard overlords.

*Warning: explanation may contain manifold inaccuracies and lies.


Lisa-Marie said...

I vote for dinosaurs. Having looked up things about Belgium, I think the vegetables are quite apt!

I particularly enjoy the lego king.

Dig said...

Fabulous. Do dinosaurs like endives?

Jessica said...

Well done! I thought about this a bit myself last night and it wasn't terribly great either. My ideas:

-We could lease a retired bureaucrat from another nation. Someone who speaks none of the official languages, ideally, but who has a great record in negotiations.

-Strangely, I too thought of the tennis players. Henin-Clijsters as a joint PM-ship should make everyone shut up, since one is French and the other Flemish. They could settle any really difficult deadlocked-in-parliament-problems on the court.

-Along similar lines, I thought we could put a lion and it's weight in fighting-roosters into a cage. Whichever comes out the victor of the symbolic Fleming-Wallon blood-match gets whatever they want in BHV. And there will be speculoos served to the spectating crowd. And bets may be placed at all "La Poste" bureaus until noon the day of, with all profits from said betting going to improve the ridiculously pot-holed roads of the country.

As well I had these ideas come as runners-up:

-Whomever comes in 2nd in the British elections.

-Whomever wins Air-Guitar at Dour. True it's just after the start of the EU presidency... but we always have to wait for real rock-stars to take the stage, anyways, right? All part of the act.

-We could hand paint-cans to all citizens residing in BHV. French get Red, Flems get bright orange. At an appointed time they are allowed to run about their community, painting furiously whatever it is they would like to have and be responsible for. When the time's up, whatever remains unpainted goes to Brussels proper, and what's red is red, what's orange is orange. Then we just redraw the borders. Tadaa. No politicians needed.

soleils said...

This is pure genius, Waffle. I am speechless. The king's endive-carved throne had brightened my day no end.
You should copyright this. It truly is priceless. Merci!!!!

Alison Cross said...

I have learned more about Belgian politics in the last few minutes reading than I knew in my whole life up to that point.

Bloody genius to do it with veg!

You should market this technique to your local school, I mean, Stalag. They would pick it all up in no time flat.

I shall try it tonight with son and Scottish politics. Vegetables just about covers it.

Ali x

Waffle said...

Jessica - You are brilliant. Many of those solutions would TOTALLY work.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Can you now explain British politics with fruit? thanks...

livesbythewoods said...

This was tremendously helpful. Can you do one for the UK too please, it would make voting so much more straightforward.


VW: aoentio - isn't that the chorus to "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"?

Julia Ball said...

Herman van Rumpuy is such a cool name :-)

TonyC said...

I'm confused; which vegetable was Eddy Merckx?

puncturedbicycle said...

I too am hoping this is the first in a series. At the end, you could compile a textbook.

Anonymous said...

Love your writing. Your blog is my current favorite and your last post really makes me want to visit Belgium.

asta said...

There's fine university here looking for a new professor in Political Science. This would make a killer CV replacement.

Laurel said...

I had to Google the La Marseillaise thing to see if it was actually true. Perhaps I should not be surprised to find that it is. Interesting! American politics has more than its share of buffoons and dimwits but no one ever forgets the anthem. It would be instant political death.

Now I am wondering what food items would best represent our political leaders. Uncooked bacon comes to mind, for some reason.

Sewmouse said...

Ok, if you wish you may lease one of our retired political bureaucrats. Some suggestions:

Jimmy Carter: Good at negotiating, probably doesn't speak any official Belgian languages, and darn nice guy, although his voice can be grating, and he's getting up there in years.

Bill Clinton: Gotta be good at negotiating, seeing as he's still married and yet has managed to negotiate his way into Monica and uncounted others. Not sure about languages.

George W. Bush: Um. He's a bit light on the negotiating thing. Ok, he's 12 short of a dozen - but I guarantee you he doesn't speak any Belgium-official languages, as he is barely able to make himself understood in 'Merkan English.

The first two might be a bit pricey to rent. The last one you can have at no charge. In fact, some of us might pay YOU to take him...

Fat Controller said...

So you want someone not at all dodgy, who is willing to abide by the rule of law and not tell porky pies to judges when they ask him awkward questions?

Berlusconi's your man.

Alisa said...

love LOVE LOVE chicon throne.

kathycastro said...

I know that people find BHV quite useful, but I had no idea a faintly dirty Paris department store with an ace homewares department yielded such power in Belgiana. I learn something every day on this blog, Waffle, merci. xx

Margaret said...

Whenever I start an Economist article about Belgian politics, I end up in a deep, dreamless slumber within two paragraphs. So this was both engaging and informative. I am going to go put together my own explanation of the U.S. Electoral College system using Ryvita crackers, avocados and some grape tomatoes.

Go with Jimmy Carter. Bush will just have you tearing your hair out with his irritating Texas frat boy turned born-again Christian shtick. Bill Clinton will only sign up if he's assured Belgium has the KFC Double Down. He'll supply his own interns.

Can you explain France next?

Mr Farty said...

Well it made me laugh. And now I know a bit about Belgian politics too.

You are a genius.

Em said...

Behold! The University of Waffledom. I lay my air guitar at your feet, Oh Informative One.

frau antje said...

The throne!

I too am confused, why do you have vegetables in the house on days when you don't have to cook for anyone?

Your last post really makes me want to continue saying I'll visit Belgium, but never quite getting around to it. Passing through is another story though, have opened my eyes while going through parts of Brussels, and I swear to you it was 1949. Is some sort of time warp part of the political problem?

Madame DeFarge said...

Given our own impending election, I wish we had some visual aids to guide us through the morass of nonsense ahead.

done said...

you are obiously brainwashed by the rtbf. If only the french belgians would live by the law and give back BHV there would be no issue.
ps: it is VlaAms belang.

laurafrombe said...

albert with a wig... tempting...

Linda said...

I live in France. What vegetable could represent Sarkosy? It has to be a short one while also being pompous. His wife could be an asparagus I think.

Johnners said...

Loved the playmobil King! V funny AND informative, so much better than BBC News 24.
Think we should dispense with the politicians here in sunny Blighty and elect some playmobil figures instead. Then we can change their heads about if they displease us. I think we've got some unicorns around here too...

Anonymous said...

" What vegetable could represent Sarkosy? It has to be a short one while also being pompous. "

The truffle - small, pretentious, over-priced and leaves a bad taste in you mouth.

Françoise said...

Bravo! I think YOU should run up for prime minister and impose English as the only official language. End of conflicts: all the Belgians would be allied in resisting you!

London City (mum) said...

I'm with the Fat Controller on this one: Berlusconi for Belgium.

Guaranteed to also take over all media, introduce tacky TV programs, clamp down on any dissent and resolve disputes via dippy dancing girls with large bosoms wearing scanty clothing.

Voila'. Who needs dictators?


Fat Controller said...

Re: the BHV question. Why not build an arbitarily-situated wall through the middle of the place to divide the two factions? History has shown that this is always a really really effective solution.

Anonymous said...

YES! Let's build the wall!

Margaret said...

Fat Controller is a genius--that will totally work! Though I would suggest an enormous curtain made from some kind of metal. (Seriously, I was 12 before I realized there was NOT a ginormous sheet of corrugated* iron separating the east and west. I pictured it with those roll-up security gates like they have in warehouses. My misunderstandings have always tended to be very detailed.)

*you know because it's a curtain

bet said...

Pure genius! And tremendously instructive - have been living in Belgium for almost 2 years now and I think this should be the intensive course to Belgian politics for expats. Now, as an Italian, I am wondering what vegetable could describe Berlusconi...

Alice said...

Still laughing at this days later...also like Jessica's idea of using paint to define territory

FeliciaMarlove said...

<3 :D

baptiste said...

here you van find another explanations to understand Belgium (in french). Enjoy !

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Anonymous said...

Belgium is going to be divided and it is easy way to lead this kind of countries, maybe Turkish can buy some part of Belgium divided states which would be really good investment, anyway, maybe Belgium is mass like Fortis, once upon a time this Bank came and bought a Turkish bank but nobody used it and they collapsed like Belgium. As a conclusion, there must be a value to buy it, and deserve it, anyway, will see how it works...

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