Transparency Roils a Former Dictatorship
governance. With a population of 1.2 million, Brussels has “six police departments and 19 different municipalities,” Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said in a speech last year. He then compared Brussels to huge New York. “How many police departments do they have? One.”
Squabbles between Flemish- and French-speaking regions have led national authorities to hand over more power and tax revenue to their regional counterparts. One result is a shortage of law enforcement personnel at the national level: The government admitted last year that its 750-person security service had 150 slots unfilled because of budget constraints.
The country’s leaders, distracted by linguistic and cultural quarrels, “were unable to develop an intelligent policy” to draw immigrant families into mainstream society, says Leo Neels, director of the Itinera Institute, a Brussels-based think tank focusing on social issues. Neels and others have long argued that Brussels, a bilingual city that’s home to the country’s biggest immigrant population, should be designated as a federal district similar to Washington, D.C., with a unified government. Politicians have rejected the idea, he says.
Under Belgium’s constitution, organized religions deemed to offer “social value” are officially recognized by the government, which pays clerics’ salaries and pensions. But when Islam was granted official status in the 1970s, Belgium accepted Saudi Arabia’s offer to finance new mosques and send Saudi-trained imams to officiate. Unlike in other European nations where homegrown Muslim institutions have taken The bottom line Brussels’ fractured municipal government, as well as the weakness of Belgium’s central authorities, gave terrorists an opening. Paraguay makes public agencies disclose employee pay Horacio Cartes, a businessman who was elected president of Paraguay in 2013, has an unusual past for a reformer. He spent four years as a fugitive from Paraguay toward the end of dictator Alfredo Stroessner’s regime, over