Belgium History and Politics

Belgium as part of the Roman Empire

The area of ​​today’s Belgium became part of the Roman Empire as the province of Belgica. However, there was no tribe to which today’s population could be traced. Today’s Belgians come from very different ethnic groups and a Belgian state only existed much later.

Belgium as part of the Franconian Empire

After the Roman Empire fell, Belgium became part of the Franconian Empire. After its division, the county of Flanders, which lies west of the Scheldt, became part of the West Franconian Kingdom. From this later France developed. The rest came to the East Frankish Empire, later the Holy Roman Empire.

Flanders was a county at the time and its cities were of great economic importance. The port cities of Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent were important economic centers. The Dukes of Burgundy were able to submit to what is now Belgium, and from 1477 the Habsburgs ruled, who had built up a huge empire across Europe.

A new religion – also in Belgium

In the 16th century, the conflict over religion also shaped the region of today’s Belgium. With Martin Luther, a new denomination split off from the Catholic Church and many countries followed Luther’s Protestant faith.

At that time Belgium was still part of the Netherlands, which opposed the Catholic Habsburgs. Many people fled from the Habsburgs, but they managed to ensure that the Catholic faith was maintained in the south of the Netherlands. And this region roughly includes today’s Belgium. At the beginning of the 18th century the area went back to Austria, where the Habsburgs also ruled.

Kingdom of Belgium

After the victory over Napoleon, after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, a separate kingdom emerged, namely the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Today’s Belgium came first to the Netherlands.

In 1830 there was a revolution in Belgium. The southern Netherlands wanted to break away from the Dutch king and the country gained its independence. The Kingdom of Belgium was created.

But even then it became clear that one ethnic group was striving for independence: the Flemings. At the end of the 19th century, another group was added that differed from the Flemish and also strived for independence: the Walloons. They wanted to keep speaking French while the Flemings spoke Dutch.

Politics today in Belgium

In Belgium there is a king, but he has little to say. But look nice and friendly, he can do that, the king. He does, as in the photo.

In Belgium there is a parliament, i.e. the people’s representation. Parliament also decides on the composition of the government.

The Belgian conflicts in parliament

However, the country’s conflicts are also reflected in parliament, as there are many different parties that each represent their own interests. We have a few political parties and in some federal states we are always looking for independence and the representation of our own interests.

In Belgium it is much more extreme. This is where the various language and interest groups in Parliament fight each other. So it’s about money, but also about power.

250 days without a government

According to thesciencetutor, Belgium is the only country in Europe where there are no federal parties, i.e. parties that stand for the whole country. The three Belgian regions each have their own parliament, which in turn appoints its own government. It usually takes a while for a new government to be formed in Belgium. In 2011 Belgium was without a government for over 250 days because no agreement could be reached.

Then there are the different language communities, so a distinction is not only made between the south and the north, but also again according to the different languages ​​that are spoken. In addition, there is another division according to different provinces. Anyone who has a problem in Belgium has to think twice about whom they want to confront because of it. It’s not always easy. A Brussels or a Walloon cannot vote for a Flemish party.

Difficult government formation in Belgium

Even after the elections that took place at the end of May 2019, it was not possible to form a government. The two strongest parties could not agree and start working together. The Prime Minister Charles Michel initially remained in office without having had a majority confirmed by Parliament. Since Michel was elected EU Council President, Sophie Wilmès took over his position. Only under the pressure of the crisis caused by Corona from March 2020 was Sophie Wilmès expressed her confidence and she was the first woman to hold this post.

Alexander De Croo as the new Prime Minister

Seven parties have now agreed on a new governing coalition. The new Prime Minister is the Flemish Liberal Alexander De Croo, who replaces Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, who ran the government until the end of September 2020. Again it took a long time to form a government in Belgium and thus fulfilled its reputation that it was ungovernable.

Belgium History