"Brussels on the Transfer List?" by Nigel Williams

On the eve of the General Election flandersnews.be asked the British/Flemish comedian Nigel Williams to look at the state of Belgium.

The question on everyone’s mind going into the weekend is who will win? Who will be crowned champion of the masses? Will it be, as predicted, or is there an outsider ready to surprise us all? Yes, the FIFA World Cup is on! Meanwhile how are the elections shaping up here in Belgium?

Offside!

The Debate is heating up, most of it being around the theme ‘What to do about Brussels’.

On the Walloon side there are politicians demanding a sort of ‘corridor’ between the Walloon Region and Brussels, as if the Flemish had the capital under siege.

Meanwhile Flemish nationalists are demanding that the Brussels Regional Government be dissolved, all exciting stuff of course (if you are a politician).

Sin Bin

In Antwerp we had the right wing ‘Vlaams Belang’ member Alexandra Colen planning to burn newspapers in a public display of protest against the so called ‘left wing media boycott’ of her party,.

In the end she wasn’t allowed to burn the newspapers because of local health and safety issues, so she ripped them up and put them neatly in a bin, all very defiant stuff, actions of a very tidy freedom fighter.

‘Sing when you’re winning!’

Last weekend politicians were out in force at every local market, shopping mall and street corner selling their version of the truth.

I even expected one to pop out of the hedge at the bottom of my garden when I had friends over for a BBQ.
 

I was surprised to hear my friends actually talking about the elections, usually a strict code of neutrality is taken at get-togethers like a BBQ at a friend’s house for the sake of argument and indigestion.

Not this time, most of my friends were agitated and excited at the prospect of voting for the Flemish nationalist N-VA so as to ‘get back’ at the French-speakers, whether in Brussels or the Walloon area.
 

There seems to be a sort of ‘revenge‘ in the air, so a predicted N-VA landslide could be in the making.

Whose side are you on?

There are nationalists on both sides of the language barrier who would like to see an end to Belgium, but there is a small practical matter to solve of course and that is Brussels.  What to do about Brussels? Surrounded by Flanders yet primarily French-speaking, Dutch being probably about the third language in Brussels day-to-day life.

How could Brussels fit into a future of an independent Flanders and Wallonia?

Should it be governed by a sort of board of trustees appointed by both sides? Or should it become a sort of City State like Monaco for instance?

Could either Flanders or Wallonia lay claim to Brussels as being ‘theirs’?

I don’t think so. Brussels is Brussels! A friend of mine, who is Brussels born and bred and has a great way of switching half sentence from Flemish to French and back, calls himself laughingly a ‘Flemish Walloon’, doesn’t think of himself as either Flemish or Walloon.

Surveys have showed that the most popular boy’s name in Brussels is actually Muhammad.

Doesn’t sound very Walloon or Flemish, if you ask me.
 

Extra time

In general there is an air of excitement about these elections, an air that there are ‘definite’ changes about to happen and that we could be on the eve of an historic event.

There again it might all just turn into months of wrangling and bartering to get a national government in the saddle, by which time summer will be over, a new nation will be crowned FIFA World Champions and Brussels will still be capital of Belgium (and not the other way around as I have to explain to an American friend of mine).

If you’re expecting a revolution, don’t hold your breath, in spite of all the arguing and electioneering insults being thrown around, Belgians (Walloon and Flemish) have a lust for life that has its own set of priorities, food and drink rate higher than struggle and revolt.

After the elections I expect a few months of political get-togethers and all night meetings in Brussels, with caterers being the main beneficiaries.

Eat drink and be merry! For tomorrow we can have another election!

What will I be doing on Election Day? Well, if the weather holds I’ll probably have some friends over for a BBQ, and we’ll have loads of political flyers and posters to burn, or should we rip them up? Afterwards we'll watch the football

........... And England will eventually lose on penalties.