A weekend in…

Brus­sels, city of politi­cians

We all know Brus­sels as the cap­i­tal of Europe, but it is so much more than that. In fact, it is fair to call Brus­sels the cap­i­tal among cap­i­tals, as the city’s po­lit­i­cal im­por­tance can’t be over­stated. As such, it is hardly sur­pris­ing that Brus­sels is als

- Germany News · European Politics · Politics · Belgium · Flanders, New Jersey · European Commission · European Council · Council of Europe · European Parliament · Federal Government of Belgium · French Community

To un­der­stand the story of Brus­sels, you must un­der­stand the story of Bel­gium. Since its found­ing in 1830, Bel­gium has been a monar­chy of two sep­a­rate cul­tures: the Flem­ish and the Wal­loon. Un­til 1970, the en­tire coun­try was led by just one gov­ern­ment and one par­lia­ment. Yet, more and more, the Flem­ish, Wal­loon and Ger­man-speak­ing peo­ple (who joined Bel­gium af­ter the First World War) had dif­fer­ent opin­ions on the coun­try’s fu­ture. To deal with this is­sue, Bel­gium was trans­formed into a fed­eral state, the re­gions of which re­ceive au­ton­omy on cer­tain top­ics.


De­ter­min­ing how to di­vide the tiny na­tion was eas­ier said than done. Where the Flem­ish politi­cians pre­ferred a lan­guage-based divi­sion (a gov­ern­ment for the Dutch speak­ers, one for the French speak­ers and one for the Ger­man speak­ers), the Wal­loon politi­cians ad­vo­cated for a ge­o­graph­i­cal divi­sion (a gov­ern­ment for Flan­ders, one for Wal­lo­nia and one for Brus­sels). Un­able to reach con­sen­sus, the Bel­gian gov­ern­ment de­cided to di­vide the coun­try twice: the lan­guage-based com­mu­ni­ties would be in charge of cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion, while the ge­o­graph­i­cally de­ter­mined re­gions would han­dle fis­cal con­cerns. And so, Bel­gium be­came a coun­try with six gov­ern­ments and par­lia­ments (not seven, as the Dutch Com­mu­nity and the Flem­ish Re­gion have merged into one).

Brus­sels it­self is also gov­erned by a city gov­ern­ment – or, ac­tu­ally, gov­ern­ments. As the city is di­vided into 19 vil­lages, 19 city ad­min­is­tra­tions rule over each their very own part of Brus­sels. On top of that, the coun­try also counts ten prov­inces, but let’s not open that can of worms, as it would only fur­ther com­pli­cate our al­ready-com­plex story.


Let’s do the maths: how many ac­tive politi­cians does Brus­sels count? The Bel­gian ad­min­is­tra­tion counts 225 heads (15 min­is­ters and 210 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans), the Flem­ish one 133 (nine min­is­ters and 124 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans), the French Com­mu­nity 99 (five min­is­ters and 94 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans) and the Brus­sels Cap­i­tal Re­gion 97 (eight min­is­ters and 89 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans). The or­gan­i­sa­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Brus­sels re­quires no less than 873 peo­ple (19 may­ors, 159 al­der­men and 695 council mem­bers). The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Council and the Council of Europe ac­count for an­other 81 peo­ple (27 com­mis­sion­ers, 27 heads of state and 27 min­is­ters). As the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is also based in Brus­sels for the lion’s share of the month, we can add their 751 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans as well. Thus, al­to­gether, Brus­sels is the of­fice of 2,259 politi­cians. So, when you are stand­ing at the heart of the city, know that there might just be a world leader right next to you.

 ??  ?? Flem­ish Par­lia­ment.
Flem­ish Par­lia­ment.
 ??  ?? Grand Place.
Grand Place.
 ??  ?? Bel­gian Par­lia­ment.
Bel­gian Par­lia­ment.
 ??  ?? Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.
Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

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