Is Belgium a democracy?
11/16/2019 (Sat) 21:22:55
Belgium has a pretty complex structure. In fact it's made up of at least two democracies, a Dutch speaking and a French speaking part. 4 democracies if you count Brussels and the German speaking part. (pic1)
Why consider them seperate democracies, instead of just two subsets/states of a federal state? Well for instance you can't vote for Walloon (French speaking) political parties in Flanders (the Dutch speaking part) and vice versa. They also have different media, public opinion, etc ... Flanders is usually conservative and right wing, while Wallonia is usually progressive and left wing.
This results in some moral quandaries about democracy and representation. For instance, is a Belgian national government democratic/representative if it doesn't have a majority in both sub-democracies? There is an unwritten rule that a government should have a majority in both parts of the country, but it's by no way a legal obligation. As a result the two past governments didn't have a majority in Flanders and Wallonia respectively, which led to a lot of dissatisfaction in the regions.
There is another matter that complicates things. Flanders has a majority of the population, but Walloon votes weigh more in elections. If it was truly representative Flanders could in theory just dominate Wallonia. Hence a Walloon vote is 'worth more'. There are more seats to be gained by Walloon parties per head of the population. (pic2)
Let me illustrate this with a concrete example of the past week or so. We don't have a government atm but parliament did some legislation on extending the term for abortion on its own initiative. The measure had a majority in the national parliament, a very large majority in Wallonia, but a minority in Flanders. (pic3&4)
Is this democratic? Please discuss