Bush in Brussels (3) - Belgian politicians on Bush

Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws interviewed three Flemish politicians on their stance towards president Bush. The article by Jan Segers contains some interesting quote material. But before proceeding to the quotes, let me explain the political spectrum in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.

At the far right, you have Vlaams Belang (formerly Vlaams Blok), a secessionist and anti-immigrant party. Also secessionist, but in a more moderate sense and without the anti-immigrant component, is the Flemish-nationalist N-VA. At center-right, you have the liberal VLD, which is the most pro free market party, but at the same time leaning to the left on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage (a combination which is rather unusual in the Anglo-Saxon world, but very common on continental Europe). Als center-right are the christian democrats of CD&V, conservative on ethical issues but center to center-left on social and economic issues, because of a strong influence of its syndicalist (union) wing. At the left you have the socialist party SP.A and the left-liberal party Spirit. The green party "Groen!" is catalogued by many as far-left.

Newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws interviewed three politicians. Senator Jean-Marie Dedecker (VLD) is usually described as a right-wing Flemish liberal and challenger of current VLD president Bart Somers. Contrary to his right-wing image, Dedecker is leaning left on ethical issues, is very pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, and is a heavy critic of George W. Bush. Representative Gerolf Annemans (Vlaams Belang) is profiling himself more on secessionist and anti-establishment issues than on the immigration issue. And Bert Anciaux, founder of Spirit, is currently Minister of Cultural Affairs in the Flemish government. Anciaux has a personal blog and is not afraid to show his emotions on television, which leads some people to calling him "Bert the weeper".

Jean-Marie Dedecker:

If I say that Bush's IQ is lower than my blood pressure, then Mr Bush shouldn't complain at this moment, because my doctor has found yesterday that my blood pressure is way to high. I have to rest a few days, so I won't demonstrate against Bush. [About the Piss-on-Bush action:] I find this idea as debilitating as Bush himself. I'm not a blind Bush-hater. Economically I would like to see the VLD shift more in his direction. The clear way in which Bush has implemented his tax reduction, with a cheque for every family, is something Verhofstadt can learn from. [...]

In Belgium, Bush would belong to the Alexandra Colen wing of Vlaams Belang: very conservative and deeply religious. On social and economic issues, he's more in line with the VLD or with wat the VLD should be. On ecology, no Flemish party is as anti-green as Bush, although the Boerenbond (Farmer's Union, which is not a political pary) would come close.

Gerolf Annemans:
I warmly welcome president Bush. You won't hear me say that I agree on everything with the man, but his policies have given the US an advantage of ten years compared to Europe. With him, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, away from all that is left-wing and progressive. That evolution is gradually coming to Europa too. Bush finds conservative values as important as we do, with an emphasis on the family and the own identity. [...] We don't need a new Bush: the old one wasn't bad. I agreed with the intervention in Iraq and I refuse to confirm at this time that it was an error or a failure. If Bush were Flemish, he would be welcome at Vlaams Belang.

Bert Anciaux:
I would like to demonstrate against him. I have asked the Flemish government if I could, but they made clear it would be better not to. As a government minister, I'm not as free as I would be as an MP or a pary president, in which case I certainly would have demonstrated on the streets. So now I keep my legs still, but my heart will beat for the demonstrators. I'm more rebellious than most of my colleagues and therefore I say it loudly, but I guess I'm not the only Flemish minister thinking like that about Bush. [...] On ethical issues Bush would belong to Vlaams Belang. On social and economic issues he's ultra-liberal, more right-wing and antisocial than any political party in Flanders. Ecologically? He doesn't care about the environment. He's less green then anyone in Flanders.





Yes, N-VA, "without the anti-immigrant component", but
unfortunately not without the anti-Israel component.




This perception that Bush is "anti-environment" rests on a common misnomer found among the Left, even here in the States. Bush is not "anti-environment", but like many conservative Americans he distrusts the ability of a large, centralized government to resolve complex environmental issues. He believes that environmental problems will be solved locally through the application of emerging technology, and that technology will only come about as the result of economic growth.

Imposing arbitrary rules makes environmental solutions pointlessly expensive and complex. An example in the U.S. is the Clinton administration's rules on arsenic content in groundwater. Arsenic is a naturally-occurring chemical in the groundwater of many regions of the U.S., and as such there has never been a recorded incidence of such levels having adverse effects on local populations. But the Clinton rules mandated that states bring arsenic levels below their naturally occurring levels, which meant that local governments have had to invest many millions of dollars in water cleaning plants to "clean" water that was never unhealthy in the first place.





You really are mad, how many conspiracy theories would you like to support in your "all Yanks are vile specially thick Texans routine".

Bush like me, you and most other people has his faults, America, like Belgium and the UK the same. However given their record over the last two hundred yeras i would take the Americans over the Belgian's any day.

Collaboration here was widespread. Ettienne D'Avingon and others should ask where his money comes from. SG was hardly clean.




"arme Joe"




Bush at Vlaams Belang, why not!!! I'm sure he still has nazi memorabilia at his granddad's attic. He should have taken them today with him on the plane, to impress Karel Dillen. He would give him a platinum VB membership card for life.




Flemish American


I think I would copy/paste something I said on another site today.

One thing that has concerned me as a "distant observer" is the uneasy alliance of right-wing, ultra nationalism and the Christian right. I think some of the comments posted on different sites and the way they are presented are good examples of why this alliance, while effective, is counter productive in good debate and why Christians are getting more and more fed up with the side they have to be on to promote their moral agenda.

I have to admit that it is the pious, uncompromising way of the right that is the catalyst for all the emotional outbreaks in these debates. However, the left is like a cat to a dog...deliberately taunting and teasing until the dog practically chokes itself on its leash.

Neither side is without blame.


Left-wing Flemming


A little mistake:

"...., but THE made clear it would be better not to."

should be:

..., but THEY made clear it would be better not to.




@Pascal: if you think of the terms "left" and "right" not in absolute terms but in relative terms, compared to the current position of society or political system: the Democratis are trying to impose more regulation, more social security. Yes, they are generally pro free-market, in the sense that they do not want to abandon free market. But in striving towards more instead of less regulation, I would say the "lean" more to the left.


Pascal Van Hecke


"pro free market party, but at the same time leaning to the left on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage (a combination which is rather unusual in the Anglo-Saxon world, but very common on continental Europe)"

So what about the lib-dems in Britain, and the Democratic Party in the USA?




> Bert Anciaux: I have asked the Flemish government if I could [demonstrate against Bush]

Flemish government: "Only after eating all your vegetables!"