17 April 2007
BRUSSELS – The language issue flared up once again as letters informing the electorate in Sint-Genesius-Rode of the upcoming general elections caused commotion in the municipal council on Monday evening.
The Francophone majority decided to accept registration forms in French from Belgians living abroad despite Flemish protest. It was also decided to send out 11,000 voter registration letters in Dutch and to print 7,000 French language ones.
“The special [French language] facilities are only for residents of Sint-Genesius-Rode, Belgians who live abroad must register to vote using the Dutch-language form, since Rode is a Flemish municipality. This was confirmed by the Council of State ruling and Flemish minister Marino Keulen supports this viewpoint as well,” says Flemish municipal official Anne Sobrie.
Of the 370 Belgians who registered as living abroad, 320 sent in their registration form in French.
Regulations stipulate that Sint-Genesius-Rode must send all residents a letter in Dutch, and Francophones who so desire may request a copy in their language. Sobrie says it is a waste of money to print up as many French letters as there are Francophone inhabitants and that these should only be printed as they are requested.
The discussion led to a minor incident during the council hearing when several militant members of the Taalacktiekomitee (TAK, Language Action Commission) protested the decision to accept French-language voter registration forms from Belgians living abroad. Mayor Rolin had the TAK members removed from the meeting room.
[Copyright Expatica News 2007]
Subject: Belgian news