Posts tagged ‘PS’

Countdown to the Belgian Federal Elections

On April 22, Open VLD, the Flemish Liberal Party, withdrew from the Belgian government coalition after having lost confidence in the government’s handling of the complicated dossier surrounding the electoral district of Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV).

On April 26, the Belgian King accepted Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s resignation.

Elections were called for Sunday June 13, only half a month before the start of Belgium’s EU presidency.

Snap elections are never easy on political parties. Election programmes have to be made in a rush, candidates’ lists have to be composed in no time: chaos. Furthermore, much energy, time and money was spent on the last elections (regional and European), which only took place last year.

Many Belgians are tired of all this political uncertainty. Ever since the 2007 federal elections, which led to a government formation process that took about 9 months, the Belgian federal government has been unstable.

Although it is compulsory to turn up to the polling booth in Belgium, this election campaign has seen an unprecedented amount of people call for not voting.

That is worrying, as these elections are very important for socio-economic reasons and for the future of Belgium. Belgium’s institutional problems and the tensions between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking are what is picked up most in the foreign press. It would, however, be exaggerated to state, like the FT’s Stanley Pignal, that “the economy has barely featured in the campaign”. Many parties have emphasized their plans to cut costs. Others are campaigning on strengthening social security, for instance by reforming the pension system, and on cutting costs where it will least hurt Belgian social security.

The latest polls

The latest polls indicate huge gains for the Flemish nationalists of the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance). The most recent poll, from the newspaper La Libre Belgique predicts that 26% of the votes in Flanders would go to the NV-A. That would make the separatist party the largest party in Flanders. In Wallonia, the PS (socialist party) would remain the largest political group, with 30% of the votes. In Brussels, the MR (Francophone liberal party) leads the polls, with around 23%.

As there never is a dull moment in Belgian politics, we look forward to updating you on the latest developments in these last 5 days in the run up to the only poll that counts, to be held on Election Day June 13.

June 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm 1 comment

2009: A European Odyssey (into French online media)

French Europhiles always complain that the media never report anything (positive) about the European Union. In Le Point this week, the Chief Editor argues that ” it is a well-known fact in press circles: put the word ‘Europe’ on first page or on a TV debate and you will only make readers and viewers change page or channel”.

It tends to be true most of the time. Of course, you can read once a month about Sarkozy’s reactions to the last European Council or about ‘Brussels’ ruining the business of French fishermen or farmers. But you will find it difficult to read any quality article about the Telecoms Package or the Energy liberalisation Package, although both sets of measures contain real improvements for French consumers.

However, I found out recently that the online media coverage of the European elections campaign is quite interesting. The debate even tries to go beyond Franco-French issues. I’ve read good – and sometimes funny – things about Libertas in Ireland, Berlusconi’s choices of candidates and details on the status of the campaign in several Member States.

The Internet is blooming with articles on the EU: Le Figaro has a specific ‘European elections’ section, Le Monde provides readers with lots of interesting portfolios and interactive maps. Libération gives original points of view through a specific blog on European elections and Quatremer’s famous Coulisses de Bruxelles.

Even political parties are very active on the Internet to provide attractive information. UMP and PS both have specific websites dedicated to European elections. Although I am sceptical about their slogan – “When Europe wants, Europe can”- the UMP website features a ‘Europe TV 2009’ which is quite nice and easy to navigate. Although less visually attractive, the PS website gives a lot of background information on the Socialist programme and features a list of relevant Twitter feeds.

A good starting point to navigate all these websites could be the newly updated map of ‘the European web’ set up by Touteleurope. It is quite an impressive map that registers 2046 French websites and blogs dealing with EU issues on a regular basis.

For once, no citizen will be able to argue that he was not well informed… A question remains: will it change anything to the fact that the French have always used the European elections to sanction the government in power?


May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

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