Opinion: Conflict resolution

POSTED: 11/24/11 8:40 AM

The Kingdom of Belgium just does not manage to get it right. For the past 526 odd days Belgian politicians have been at loggerheads over the formation of a new government. Formateur Di Rupio has now offered his resignation and King Albert had refused to accept it.
But Peter Vandermeersch, the Belgian editor in chief at the reputable NC Handelsblad has a solution. He published an open letter to his King yesterday, suggesting that His Majesty lock up all politicians and order them to present a solution within five days. “Otherwise, lock them up in a coal mine in Wallonia,” Vandermeersch wrote.

He added that it is time for His Majesty to bang the politicians’ heads against each other. It is not five minutes to twelve, the journalist wrote, it is already a quarter past twelve.

We have to admit, Vandermeersch has come up with what is most likely the only solution that will ever work in Belgium. It is, of course, an impossible country, torn apart by a language war between the French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish speaking people of Flanders. Their mutual hatred and mistrust runs deep, and now that attitude threatens to run the whole Kingdom into the ground. That is too much for Vandermeersch, even though many Belgians have lost their appetite for politics and for elections over the years.

New elections won’t solve the problem, and month after month of attempts to bring parties on the same page have failed. Now the financial markets threaten to come down on what was once, as Vandermeersch describes it, the micro-cosmos of Europe. Locking up politicians who are afraid of their own fan-base sounds like a good idea.

If it works in Belgium, we may as well keep it in mind for future conflicts in St. Maarten.

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