Belgian crisis

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  • Publié le : 9 août 2010
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Linguistic demonstrations in the early 1960s led in 1962 to the establishment of a formal linguistic border and elaborate rules were made to protect minorities in linguistically mixed border areas. In 1970, the Constitution was amended. Flemish and francophone cultural councils were established with authority in matters relating to language and culture for the two language groups.
The 1970constitutional revision did not finally settle the problem, however. A controversial amendment declared that Belgium consists of three cultural communities (the Flemish Community, the French(-speaking) Community and the German-speaking Community) and three economic regions (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels) each to be granted a significant measure of political autonomy. It was not until 1980,however,that an agreement could be reached on how to implement this new constitutional provision.
In August 1980, the Belgian Parliament passed a devolution bill and amended the Constitution, establishing:
A Flemish community legislative assembly (council) and Flemish government;
A Francophone community legislative council and government competent for cultural, language, and educationalmatters; and
Walloon and Flemish regional legislative assemblies and governments competent for regional economic matters.
Immediately, the Flemings had their regional legislative council and government transfer its competencies to the community legislative council and government. That became competent for both cultural, language, and educational affairs, and for regional economic matters.
Since1984 the German language community of Belgium (in the eastern part of Liège Province) has had its own legislative assembly and executive, competent for cultural, language, and educational affairs.
In 1988-89 the Constitution was again amended to give additional responsibilities to the regions and communities. The most sweeping change was to devolve nearly all responsibilities for educationalmatters to the communities. Moreover, the regions and communities were provided additional revenue, and Brussels Region was given its own legislative assembly and executive.
Another important constitutional reform took place in the summer of 1993. It formally changed Belgium from a unitary to a federal state. It also (modestly) reformed the bicameral parliamentary system and provided for thedirect election of the members of the community and regional legislative councils. The bilingual Brabant province was split into separate Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant provinces, whereas in the Brussels-Capital Region most of the elsewhere provincial powers are exercised by the region and the responsibilities of an elsewhere provincial governor towards the federal level, by the Governor ofBrussels-Capital. However, the electoral and judicial districts of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde were not split.
Despite the numerous constitution revisions, the matter is not completely settled. There is still a lot of political tension between French-speakers and Dutch-speakers, and, to a lesser degree, between French-speakers and the politically far weaker German-speakers. Flemings also complain aboutremaining discriminations (like the fact Walloon candidates can obtain votes from voters in both Flemish and Walloon regions, but that is impossible for a Flemish candidate)[citation needed]. Similarly, there are also quite unanimous reports of discrimination towards Flemings in hospitals in Brussels. This was acknowledged by the French-speaking socialist minister in charge of public health, RudyDemotte[citation needed].
[edit] Shift from linguistic to cultural and political animosityAt the end of the 20th century, it became clear that the main opposition between Flemings and Walloons was not primarily linguistic anymore, but had shifted to major political and demographic differences. Flemish parties appear much more 'Anglo-Saxon' in policy choices, moving away from 'big state'...
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