September 15th, 2011


Belgium: directly elected senators to be abolished

The Belgian papers this morning are full of the deal reached last night by politicians on the obscure but complex and painful issue of the partition of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. I was fascinated to read that one of the details is that the directly elected component of the Belgian Senate is to be abolished. 

The meat of the deal is that voters in the six faciliteitengemeenten / communes à facilités will get to choose between Flemish and Francophone lists of candidates for the European elections, and between Brussels and Flemish Brabant constituency lists of candidates for Chamber elections, and this will be anchored in the constitution. (Up to now, everyone in the whole of BHV got to choose from both lists for the European elections, so this will now be restricted to Brussels and the six gemeenten; and there was no Flemish Brabant constituency for the Chamber, the west of the province being bundled with Brussels to make BHV and us in the east having our own Leuven constituency.)

Clearly it was too difficult to decide how the direct elections for the Senate could be fitted into this, and the simplest solution was just to stop having them. The Senate will continue to exist - the 21 Senators currently chosen by the Flemish, Francophone and German-speaking community parliaments will be increased to 51, and the 10 co-opted Senators remain. But the overall number thus drops from 71 to 61, plus the King's three children who are members but not usually counted.

So, at a moment when crazy plans to introduce directly elected members of the UK's House of Lords are being discussed, Belgium is going the other way... Edited to add - I had missed the crucial point that the royals are to be kicked out. So Belgium is removing both directly elected members and hereditaries from its upper house.


The last two times I posted my Delicious links by hand, Delicious posted them again a couple of hours later. I've turned off Delicious posting once more, though even that has not always been a smooth process ion the past, so hopefully you'll only see these once (unless you're following me on Twitter, in which case you may have seen them already).

Social media, black humour and professionals... - Anne Marie Cunningham queries the use of derogatory language in public spaces.

Raad van bestuur Belgacom dreigt met opstappen - Trouble at the top of my least favourite telecoms company!

Framework & Guidelines for Use of Social Media for Government Organisations (PDF) - Guidelines for (Indian) government officials on professional use of social media.

DUP could be biggest loser in the shake-up of boundaries - I get quoted in the Belfast Telegraph.

Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did - "He ended the terror of living in the South."

Why US Pays More for Health Care Than Other Nations - "Despite spending nearly twice as much, our results compared to other nations are disappointing. Take infant mortality rates. Studies show we have some of the worst results in the developed world. We pay for a Porsche but get a Yugo."

Ellen Ripley Is Clearly the Best Female Character in Scifi Film, and That's a Problem - (1) She's not a sidekick, arm candy, or a damsel to be rescued... (2) Ripley isn't a fantasy version of a woman... (3) The character is strong enough to survive multiple screenwriters... (4) Ripley was lucky enough to be played by Sigourney Weaver.

Digested read: Honey Money by Catherine Hakim | The Guardian - "In the unlikely event that a woman does not want to become a prostitute, my theory, which is mine, recognises there are other ways a woman can cash in on her erotic capital."