PDA

View Full Version : Belgian monarchy


saki
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:44 PM
Just curious to know what kind of powers the monarchy has in Belgium, what the history of the family is, how popular they are, whether there's any chance that Belgium will eventually become a republic.

Any thoughts?

per4ever
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:50 PM
:o :o :o :o

JOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

they don't have much power anymore..I think the king only has to sign propositions of the Chambers I think..

Lot's of people want a republic, others want the monarchy to stay.. I prefer the monarchy..

saki
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:52 PM
But Belgium hasn't been an independent state for very long (relatively speaking), so where does this family come from? How established are they?

I'm sure Joshie will be here soon enough

per4ever
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:54 PM
it was just a guy they asked!!!!!!!!!! Leopold I Van Saksencoburg if I'm not wrong :o

we learned about it..but this is really something for Josh..lol

Barrie_Dude
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:54 PM
Isn't Angelica Some Sort Of Royalty in Belgium? :p

Maajken
Feb 21st, 2002, 07:57 PM
Belgium became independent in 1830 en our first king was a german (i think).

I would prefer a republic. At least we wouldnt have to pay then to support his entire family.

per4ever
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:02 PM
Originally posted by Angelica
I would prefer a republic. At least we wouldnt have to pay then to support his entire family.

that's rubbish..who do you think pays the president and his home etc???
I think those elections for a president are just stupid...they try to make eachother ridiculous, spend millions of money to promote themselves and once they are there nobody can harm them for 4 years..pffffffff

gentenaire
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:06 PM
Nearly all European royal families are related anyway. I think the Saxen Coburgs are the most powerful family in history. I believe Albert (Queen Victoria's hubby) is a Saxen Coburg as well.

I don't mind our royals. They're not too clever, but they're not leading this country so it's no big deal.

Maajken
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:07 PM
At the moment we have almost three queens to pay for for gods sake! Do you have any idea how expensive a monarchy really is??

irma
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:13 PM
But Boudewijn must have had power because he was no king anymore for one day once:D

per4ever
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:14 PM
Originally posted by Angelica
At the moment we have almost three queens to pay for for gods sake! Do you have any idea how expensive a monarchy really is??

and you think all those stupid promotions of the candidates for presidentship isn't expensive????

tfannis
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:17 PM
I would prefer a republique too, allthough our king doesn't have any power. But it's just the principal, a monarchy isn't democratique, the king isn't chosen by the people. But as I said, the king doesn't have any power so that's ok, but paying for them isn't very fair indeed.

But above all I'm not fond of our royal family, especially the crown prince. They don't look very intelligent and I don't think they're interesting people.

Maajken
Feb 21st, 2002, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by per4ever


and you think all those stupid promotions of the candidates for presidentship isn't expensive????


Of course thats expensive, duh! Im just saying that in a republic the people wouldnt have to support the entire presidential family.

Our entire royal family has a total IQ of 50. The crown prince even has to buy a degree cause he's too stupid to study!

Scotso
Feb 21st, 2002, 10:35 PM
I'm not Belgian but I agree with Angelica... paying any amount of money just to support a bunch of figureheads who have to do nothing but spend money is really a waste. There are a lot of poor people in Belgium that could use that money.

Josh
Feb 21st, 2002, 11:30 PM
:wavey:

Our first king was Leopold of Saxonie-Coburg and Gotha and he was crowned king og Belgians on July 21st 1831. As you can tell by his name he came from what is now Germany and he wasn't first choice to become king. The Belgian preliminary government was looking for a king who would be accepted by all the great powers of that time. They were looking in France at first but that wouldn't be acceptable for England and Russia as France still wanted to annex Belgium and with a French king that would be fairly easy to do. A Dutch king was impossible since it was decided (and that decree still exists) that the House of Orange could never ascent to the throne because Belgium had just gained its independence from the Netherlands. So they ended up with Leopold, who wasn't very keen on accepting the job but he finally did. He was acceptable for all the great powers cause he was related to Queen Victoria and the approval of England was very important since they had accepted Belgium's independence in the first place.

The first two kings, Leopold I and II had a lot of political power and were able to control the government and parliament. That changed with Albert I but his influence was still considerable cause he was loved by the people for his actions during WWI where he fought along his army. Since then the constitution has defined the role of the king. Nowadays he doesn't have any real power anymore but depending on his personality he still has a certain influence. Every week he has a chat with the premier about recent developments and future plans and of course he can give his opinion but his opinion is not binding. He also has to sign the laws that have been voted by parliament and technically he can refuse to sign that but that has only happened once. King Boudewijn refused to sign the law that depenalised abortion because of religious motives. The government decided to declare the king in a state of inability to reign for 1 day and they signed the law in his place and so everybody was happy.

At the moment there's a debate going on about making the king only a ceremonial function like in Sweden f.e. That means the king would only wave to the people, appear in public now and then etc... but he would no longer sign laws or meet the premier on a weekly base. I dunno if that proposition will be voted soon though. It seems like the monarchy still has a fairly big support from the people so it's still very delicate to 'touch' the monarchy.

There's a difference between Flanders and Wallonia though. In Flanders you often see that members of the royal family are being booed or they are thrown eggs at etc. The proposition to limit the king's influence was also written by Flemish parties. On the Walloon side there's more support for the king cause they see the Flemish attempts to limit his influence as an attempt to break up the country. The king is actually seen by many as the unison between Flemings and Walloons and if he should disappear they fear that Belgium will also disappear.

But I think it's a discussion that will go on for a while and for now the monarchy is safe. Especially now with the newborn crown princess and all.

I'm a republican but I don't mind the monarchy at the moment.

Josh
Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:38 AM
Btw I think Albert II is a really funny man. ;)

saki
Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:40 AM
Interesting. So basically the monarchy was put into place to hold the country together. Does it work? Or does Flanders just resent the Walloon even more?

It sounds like the monarchy has similar powers to the British monarchs and I'm very much in favour of their constitutional role. I think it's a good thing to have a continual check on the power of parliament which can all too often get hijacked by extremists on a power trip.

thefreedesigner
Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:49 AM
SAKI: a "constitutional check". Like the Queen's ever going to tell Tony Blair where to go?

20th Century history of the British monarchy has been totally the other way round.

saki
Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:55 AM
tfd - yes and no. of course in day to day things, she's not going to veto anything. But if there were something very controversial going through, I think she probably would send it back to parliament for a second reading if nothing else. Of course it would have to be a bill along the lines of "I, Tony Blair, am God and will kill anyone who disobeys me" but it is reassuring to know that the idiots in the house of commons don't have the very last say.

thefreedesigner
Feb 22nd, 2002, 10:03 AM
Yeah, but then at least Tony Blair is an elected representative.

I actually don't mind the Royal family, but there significance in anything constitutional only comes into play when they themselves do things deemed to be unconstitutional (not that we have one though).

The Queen could get involved (well I think we know which way she'd go) on fox hunting. Just an opinion might be nice. Anyways, I know this thread isn't about our monarch at all.

Josh
Feb 22nd, 2002, 10:04 AM
Well the monarchy was not put into place to hold the country together. It has slowly developped into a link between Flemings and Walloons.
When Belgium became independant it was dominated by French-speaking aristocrats who wanted to 'romanise' all of Belgium even though the majority of the people were, and still are today, Flemings. A famous line from a politician of that time was : 'La Belgique sera latine ou ne sera pas!' (Belgium will be Latin or will not be). Slowly though Dutch was recognised as an official language and both Flanders and Wallonie were given more and more competences. Belgium evolved from a unitary state to a federal state and that process is still going on. Some Flemish parties even want an independant Flanders or at least a confederal Belgium. But on the Walloon side there is little support for that scenario, mainly because Wallonia is the poorer part of the country.
So now the king is seen as some kind of link between both groups, because the king is often called the 'last Belgian'. So abolishing monarchy or limiting his (already limited) constitutional powers is seen as an attempt to divide the Belgian state.

I must say though that Flemings and Walloons don't 'resent' eachother. It's more a game of politician cause Flemings and Walloons get on really well actually. There have been some, and still are, some protests or manifestations but no confrontations like in Northern Ireland f.e.

Those in favour of the monarchy also often use the argument of the 'constitutional check'. They like the fact that the king is an independat person not linked to any political party so he can operate independantly from any political influence. A president would of course be a member of a political party and could not be an independant head of state like the king is today.

However to say that the king is independant and not linked to any political party is not completely true since it's no secret that the Belgian royal family is very catholic and thuvery close to the Flemish and Walloon christian democratic parties.

gentenaire
Feb 22nd, 2002, 10:27 AM
I must say though that Flemings and Walloons don't 'resent' eachother. It's more a game of politician cause Flemings and Walloons get on really well actually.

Thank you for saying that, Josh. Apparently there are foreigners who think there's some sort of civil war going on here.
The Flemings and Walloons get along just fine, there's no hatred, there are no fights, there will never be a civil war.
People who want an indepent Flanders want it because of economical and political reasons, not because they hate Walloons (there are always exceptions of course).

Belgium is a federal state now, it's pretty complicated. There are three regions; Flanders (Dutch speaking), Wallonia (French speaking) and Brussels (bilingual). Certain things are organised on a regional level, others on a national level, others European. The past few years, more and more responsibilities have switched from the federal to the regional level. Maybe someday in the future, there will only be the regions and Europe left, who knows? In any case, it's a gradual process, an evolution, I don't think there'll ever be revolution. Besides, Flemings and Walloons have the same religion;)

per4ever
Feb 22nd, 2002, 11:19 AM
Tine you forgot the small german speaking part :D

gentenaire
Feb 22nd, 2002, 01:45 PM
No, K, there are only three regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. There are also three communities: Dutch speaking community, French speaking community, German speaking community.

per4ever
Feb 22nd, 2002, 01:52 PM
Tine...doesn't the german part have it's own 'government'..I think they have something..but I don't know what...

gentenaire
Feb 22nd, 2002, 02:55 PM
This is from the website of our government:

"Belgium gained its independence in 1830. In recent years, the country has rapidly evolved, via four sets of institutional reforms (in 1970, 1980, 1988-89 and 1993) into an efficient federal structure. So it is that today, for the first time, the first article of the Belgian Constitution states: "Belgium is a federal State which consists of communities and regions".
The decision-making power in Belgium is no longer exclusively in the hands of the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament. Now, the management of the country falls to several partners, which exercise their competences independently in different fields.

The redistribution followed two broad lines. The first concerns linguistics and, more broadly, everything relating to culture. It gave rise to the Communities, a concept which refers to the persons which make them up and to the bound which unites them, in this case language and culture. Belgium is situated at the junction between the Latin and Germanic languages: Dutch, French and German. Thus Belgium has three Communities today, based on language: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. These correspond to population groups.

The second main line of the State reform is historically inspired


by economic concerns, expressed by Regions who wanted to have more autonomous power. This gave rise to the founding of three regions: the Flemish Region, the Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region. To some extent Belgian regions are similar to the American States or the German "Länder". The country is further divided into nine provinces (10 as of 1 January 1995) and 589 communes.

The federal State retains important areas of competence including: foreign affairs, defense, justice, finances, social security, important sectors of public health and domestic affairs, etc. The Regions and Communities are entitled to run foreign relations themselves in those areas where they have competence.

Reconciling regional and cultural identity and federal structure is not an easy task, but it does have the advantage of bringing the decision-making process closer to the people. The result is a more sharply defined political structure and greater emphasis on the quality of life. "

http://belgium.fgov.be/abtb/images/kaarte.gif

Basically on the federal level we have: internal and foreign affairs, finance, employment, health, transport, justice, social affairs, environment, agriculture, defense, economy

On the level of the communities: everything to do with language: Education, culture... Recent international tests of high school students showed that the difference between Flemish and Wallonian education is great!

Regions: also economy, employment, agriculture, public works, energy, transport, civil planning, etc. It's mainly the regions that are taking over responsibilities from the federal government.

thekimfan
Feb 22nd, 2002, 03:42 PM
Me too wanted to say that there isn't some sort of war or something between Wallons and Flemish.
Belgium is already so small, and deviding it again...
Flanders is stronger in financial business, Wallonie has a beautiful nature.
I'm Flemish and I've never felt any difference between Wallons and Flemish people... (except language and so).
Belgium has to stay together!
And there's nothing wrong with keeping it a monarchy

saki
Feb 22nd, 2002, 04:35 PM
So, if there wasn't a big problem with unity, why did they want a monarchy in the first place? why not have had Belgium a republic from the beginning? rather than find a random royal & plonk him on the throne as seems to have happened with Leopold.

Thanks for all the responses, btw, it's been an interesting read!

gentenaire
Feb 22nd, 2002, 05:24 PM
Why did we have a monarchy in the first place? I don't really know. I guess it has to do with the fact that artistocrats were dominant in the beginning. I suppose they wanted a monarchy.

per4ever
Feb 22nd, 2002, 05:27 PM
well that's pretty clear why we had a monarchy first...there was still the nobility. They had lots of power, but they needed to do something to keep the people quiet. If they would let the people vote then it would mean they will lose their power, because there are lots more ordinary people then nobility.

So they pointed someone..and they still had their influence on him... I think it's like that, but I'm not sure ;)

Josh
Feb 22nd, 2002, 05:30 PM
Actually the preliminary government of 1830 was in favour of a republic but they knew that would never be accepted by the great powers of that time who were all monarchies back then (England, Russia, Austria). So chosing a monarchy was a way to please the great ones.

saki
Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:25 PM
But the early 1800s were a time of great constitutional reform. The Great Reform bill in England was passed in 1832, there were things like the Peterloo massacre. Lots of revolution & radicalism.

Josh
Feb 22nd, 2002, 11:02 PM
The Belgian Constitution of 1830 was based on the American Constitution and served as a model for other European Constitutions. So there was this tiny country with a very liberal Constitution in a Europe still ruled by monarchs facing revolutions and uprisings. So at that time it was best to have the great powers on its side and that could only be achieved by wisely chosing a king instead of a president.

Mercury Rising
Feb 23rd, 2002, 04:56 PM
Wow, I didn't know halve of this!

Josh, do you also know how we came with our national flag?

Josh
Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:47 PM
The colours of the Belgian flag were taken from the scutcheon of the duchy of Brabant. Black for the sabre, yellow for the lion and red for its tongue. The stripes were originally horizontal but it's said that the lady who was asked to make the flag put the stripes vertically by mistake and so they decided to keep it like that.

Mercury Rising
Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:50 PM
Otherwise it would be very like the German flag.