26 September, 2007

One hand is always the leading one

Although they say here: "like two hands on one belly", ona hand is always the leading one...

A country is like a business, it needs a good leader, good politics and a good strategy. “Strength through Unity” is the Belgian motto, which means that the two biggest language communities, despite the huge differences, should be able to work together in order to make this country work.

But we all know how difficult it is to run a business, to find a good bunch of people, to introduce them with the ideologies and the technologies, to make them feel responsible for your thing and expect that everyone will be happy. That’s why it’s even more difficult, to make the business profitable and longlasting. Someone will eventually start complaining. At least 50% of the companies goes bankrupt after two years. That’s the risk.

It has been working well till now in Belgium, but what will happen next...? First they made an artificial country out off three different language communities, then they introduced the obligatory French, as the official language and afterwards they created a three-tiered federation: federal, regional, and community governments That was supposed to be a compromise to minimize linguistic, cultural, social and economic tensions, which had than already started. The Flemish want to speak dutch, the Walloons want to speak french, the German-speaking community wants to be left alone, and those who live in Brussels and its suberbs want to speak flemish, french, turkish, arabic, italian and polish. VoilĂ .

The Flemish are very proud that they stimulate the economy with their good visions, good business education and an unusual hardworking and undertaking attitude. They get up early in the morning, rush to work spending, despite of the few thousand kilometers highways, long hours in unavoidable traffic jams, sit at work from dusk till dawn, (because working nine-to-five, or rather nine-to-four is a privilege of the state clerks and teachers), they come home when it’s already dark, can’t spend much time with thier kids because someone has to cook, clean do the laundry (unless they earn enough to hire a housekeeper), they have hardly time for hobbies, fall asleep on the sofa during the 7 ‘o clock News and the next day, next week and next month it’s still the same, over and over again. Not mentioning that the Flamish during their working hours have to stand up to a long list of criteria, where active, undertaking, responsible, strategic, multitasking, energetic, teamworker, inventive... are only the top of the iceberg.

On the other hand (!!!) ther are the Walloons who suffer a huge hangover after so many decades of prospering industry which collapsed almost completely by the end of the last century. They seem to be paralised and not able of any what so ever action or work. They can sit in front of their Provence-like houses, buit off beautifull yellow stones, enjoy the afternoon sun with a glass of good wine and complain that the economy is not developping. (now there should be a protest)

Of course, not everyone fits the description. But that’s what it basiclly looks like here. This is one huge, overwhelming stereotype that drives these two communities apart. It is used in politics, in art, on tv, on the street, everywhere. And what’s worse they don’t even realise that they use this clichĂ© constantly against each other.
It’s been much more then 100 days since the last elections and there’s still no Prime Minister nor a government. So far so good, because the record belongs to Mr. Dehaene, who was responsible for the formation of Martens VIII-government in 1988, and it took 148 days. Getting close!! The motto of Belgium says “Strength through Unity”, which for me means as much as “although we are so different, all unique personalities, let’s stick together and make it work”. I’m just wondering for how long one can pull it off... The Belgium state reflects very accuratelly the flemish vision on doing business. And they are very good businessmen. So, I believe they will manage this time again. Soon.