WTF is democracy anyway ?03 Feb 2006 You've got to admire Belgian politics.
There's a whole fuss about some commentary our king made in his newyears-speech about the separatism between north and south. The fuss is about whether the king should be allowed to make such commentary. Since the king is not supposed to get involved in politics, it all boils down to whether this is in fact a political remark (to me).
Anyway, the prime minister (Verhofstadt) commented on it saying that the whole fuss is a typical thing by the right wing. (Of course I can't find anything in the online newspapers about this speech by the prime minister)
By saying this he shut up the entire room, because anyone who would comment on it would be labelled as being sympathetic with the right wing, something that seems to be worse than getting AIDS in this country.
This all looks like the PM is trying to make himself more popular by taking a cheap shot at the right wing, something that seems to be "groovy" today.
I commented on that to nixe saying that he (Verhofstadt) should watch out, because some people might be offended and actually vote for the right wing (Since the PM labels them as that anyway)
We (me and nixe) got into a heated debate about how a lot of the votes for the right wing actually being protest votes and how the right wing should never be allowed to get a majority in our governement because they are fascists.
Let me situate Belgian politics to you for a moment.
We have a rightwing party called "Vlaams Blok" (VB) who got a lot of votes at the start of the 1990s. It was so bad for the other political parties that that specific election-day was named "Black Sunday".
A year later, all political parties (re-)agreed to never work together with the VB. This agreement is called the "Cordon Sanitaire".
What happened in the years after that ? (According to what I believe of course) Because VB already had a large amount of votes (17% or so), the rest of the political parties had to make larger and larger coalitions. The government was no longer in any position to govern efficiently because too many parties and too many opinions were involved. They debated about stupid arguments and never got to a consensus. All of this created a political disgust among the public. Because most of the big political parties were already in the governing coalition, they could not express their dissatisfaction with the way things were going. That's why a lot of people started voting on the VB as a form of protest. (Oh hey, here's an idea: Instead of nagging on, going back and forward as to whether the people voting on the VB are actually voting for them or just protesting, maybe you could change the voting procedure ? What about a small box that says "Check this if you want to file a protest vote". VB would lose votes instantly with this, no ? And we would have an idea about how many citizens are dissatisfied with current affairs. I should suggest this to a senator)
Now because of the Cordon Sanitaire, this only kept getting worse untill a couple of years ago. The government tried some sneaky stuff to get VB booted, like getting the VB convicted for rascism. As a reaction to that, the VB changed its name from Vlaams Blok to Vlaams Belang, hereby clearing the charges (because they formed a new party). Then there were issues with taking away the funding for this new party because they didn't actually get any votes yet, they took over the ones from Vlaams Blok. (Which makes me wonder: most other parties had a renaming frenzy a couple years before that. Why would their funding not be taken away ? Because they renamed instead of starting a new party ?)
So OK, what do we have now ? VB has 32 out of 124 seats in the flemish parliament. This is more than 25%.
VB also has 14.34% of votes on the federal level, which is the second best score (The best is 17.43% by the CD&V + NVA cartel. This makes the claim by the VB that they are the largest PARTY in Belgium, true. Since the CD&V+NVA cartel is not a party ;) but thats a sidenote). The political party with the most votes gets to assemble a coalition for the government. If the VB is in that position, they would be in the government but noone would want to govern with them (or so they say, because I believe most politicians are just greedy slimy money-eating machines who would sell their kids just to have the "Minister" title)
These results are disturbing and are probably caused by the same Cordon Sanitaire that tried to keep the VB out of the government in the first place.
The other political parties are afraid, and they should be. They were childish when they thought they could "control" the government without the support of the public, by making arrangements to keep their asses safe.
The other political parties refer to themselves as "democratic parties", implicitly naming the VB undemocratic. I wonder what gives them that right. The VB has not been in the government yet, but the other political parties have. They are the ones trying to censor the VB and they call themselves democratic ? Hellooo, give these people a dictionary!
I believe in true democracy. The people should govern themselves. For that, everyone needs to be able to speak up and get heard. When you start censoring or blocking out a big part of a population, you take away their right to get heard, and thus you break democracy.
Many people believe I'm some kind of promotor for VB, some even say that I'm a rascist because of that. I'm neither. I believe in free speech and freedom for all. I don't discriminate. If any other party should be mistreated, I would defend them as well.
I believe that VB should be heard, not ridiculed. I know they are only a (big) minority, but they are citizens of this country damnit. What you should under no circumstances do in a democracy, is let the majority supress a minority of the population, no matter what their beliefs are. As long as they harm noone and only utter political ideas, don't touch them. They have free speech!
If you allow a majority to supress a minority, we all know what happens but are afraid to say it in this context. We've had witchhunts, crusades and genocide in our history. We don't need to go on with this. If you really truly believe in democracy like I do, then don't try to control the process. Don't take away people's freedom to form a party, vote on who they want, say what they want.
I will be a geek for posting this, but I think this quote from Star Trek is really appropriate:
"With the first link, a chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." -- J.L. Picard
This quote is from an episode called "The Drumhead" in "StarTrek The Next Generation". If you haven't seen it yet, I advise you to look at it. StarTrek is more than spaceships and aliens. If you open your mind and look beyond the superficial layer of science-fiction, you'll see that you can find a lot of meaningful things in there.