Expatica news

Countdown to end of Flemish francophone spat

26 April 2005

BRUSSELS – The question of political representation in a Brussels commune is threatening a crisis at all levels of the Belgian government.

On Tuesday, the radio and TV website RTBF reported that Flemish and francophone politicians had until the following day to agree on the future of Brussels Hal-Vilvorde and put a proposal to the committee responsible for institutional reform.

While Flemish politicians want the commune to be designated part of Flanders, their francophone counterparts want its bilingual status to continue, or want concessions for giving it up.

RTBF suggested the majority parties were proposing a compromise which would not see the commune handed over to Flanders. Instead, Flemish candidates from the Leuven region would be allowed to stand in Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde and vice versa.

This would mean the constituency area would not be split up or enlarged.

But the idea may be scuppered by a previous judgement of the court of appeal, based on article 63 of the Belgian Constitution.

This lays down a rule for the number of candidates that are allowed to represent a constituency.

In the Leuven case, the right number of representatives may not be achieved.

The alternative solution, to revise article 63, is set to be blocked by the Flemish SP.A-Spirit party which opposes this option.

Concern is growing that the continued division within the Flemish parties over the issue will boost the extremist party Vlaams Belang.

There is also concern that the impasse could damage the government’s credibility.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news