Expats name Rubens, Brel as Greatest Belgians
2 December 2005
BRUSSELS — In contrast to Belgian nationals who voted for Father Damiaan as the Greatest Belgian on Thursday night, expats in Belgium have been unable to separate Peter Paul Rubens and Jacques Brel as their pick for the nation’s greatest achiever.
In a voluntary internet poll conducted on the Expatica site, Rubens and Brel each finished with 19 percent of the vote in a two-way tie for the title of Greatest Belgian.
Following close behind with 30 votes was Father Damiaan, who had led the poll from the outset, but had become embroiled in a neck-and-neck race with the eventual winners in recent days.
Some 162 expats voted in the poll, which was conducted over two weeks from 17 November and ended shortly before 7pm on 1 December.
Debate was also waged in Expatica’s discussion forums and via the poll’s comments section, with one expat noting: “All of these men set a foundation that the rest of us continue to build on and benefit from. Thanks to all”.
Another expat said: “For me it has to be Father Damiaan. What could be greater than to selflessly give up your own chance of living a long life by taking care of the condemned rejects in society?”
The achievements of Father Damiaan also prompted one expat to write: “His courage and unselfish devotion to his fellow man are unique qualities”.
While another expat noted simply: “We still miss Jacques”.
Cartographer Gerardus Mercator finished 4th in the overall tally with 11 percent of the vote, but could have moved a step closer to the title had one reader been given another chance to vote.
“I did vote for Father Damiaan, but on reading a web summary of the life of Gerardus Mercator, realised that the world really benefited so much from his ideas,” the voter wrote.
One person suggested in Expatica’s discussion forums that the nominees who lived prior to the 1830 independence of Belgium should be disqualified, while another said: “I hardly know any of them”.
Following the announcement of the winner on TV broadcaster Canvas and Radio 1 on Thursday night, an expat noted in the forums that Father Damiaan “will be strong competition against what other European countries have already voted for as their greatest”.
Similar debates across Europe have seen Charles De Gaulle (France), Konrad Adenauer (Germany), Winston Churchill (Britain) and Pim Fortuyn (the Netherlands) emerge as some of Europe’s greatest achievers.
The end result in Expatica’s Greatest Belgian poll is as follows:
Jacques Brel (31 votes), 19.1 percent
Peter Paul Rubens (31), 19.1 percent
Father Damiaan (30), 18.5 percent
Gerardus Mercator (18), 11.1 percent
Eddy Merckx (16), 9.9 percent
Paul Janssens (10), 6.2 percent
Andreas Vesalius (9), 5.6 percent
Ambiorix (7), 4.3 percent
Father Daens (7), 4.3 percent
Hendrik Conscience (3), 1.9 percent
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news