Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Your questions aren't dumb. I'd like to find out about these things as well :-)

I think that being on a list requires registration in a district, so that, yes, there are only three districts where both the Flemish and Walloon parties are on the ballot. Ideologically aligned parties across language groups don't automatically form coalitions. There's quite some politics involved. But I think that practically, they will still end up doing so.

There is a small German-speaking community, but it is too small to field its own political party for the elections. It does have a separate senator in the senate, otherwise it votes in the Walloon district in which it lives. As Belgium is a federal state, the German community also has a large degree of self-governance.

The poll in Brussels was only with regard to the French-speaking parties. I just found another poll of the Dutch-speaking parties, but that one is already over two weeks ago.

Why Verhofstadt has not been able to govern effectively is stuff for another diary.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 03:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the latter poll significantly different from the more recent poll of the Flemish areas?

And what are the numbers of Ecolo in Brussels/French part?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 03:37:46 AM EST
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Ecolo is polling at 10.5% in B-H-V. The Dutch-Speaking poll (nl) in B-H-V gives 20% to Open VLD, 15% to SP.a - Spirit and 10% to Groen!. Christian Dems and Vlaams Belang are virtually equal to the national polls.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 04:00:57 AM EST
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Thanks!  And yes, I did mean three districts, I just seem to be a little addition-impared at the moment.  :-[

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to poll only one language group or another at a time in a mixed district like Brussels.  That just wouldn't tell you very much about how the seats will break down.  It seems obvious to me that they'd need to poll the entire district about all the candidates on the ballot to get a real sense of who's going to win what.  Am I missing something?  What a curious decision.

Has there ever been a party that attempted to win support from (or field candidates in) both the Flemish and Walloon communities?  In other words, crossing the linguistic divide to talk about issues that are of concern to all Belgians?  Or is the linguistic identity too central to how people perceive their interests to allow that?

I'm just curious about that because it reminds me a bit of Lebanon....  Hopefully not as volatile, though.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 05:40:45 AM EST
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Linguistic identity is too singular. Actually, if I'm not mistaken there used to be national parties before the 1970s, when federalisation set it. But right now there are two completely different communities on diverging economic paths and with completely separated media environments. There is a Dutch language article about this in the Dutch daily NRC. A translated quote:
There is no Belgian media. A political scientist from Antwerp - Dave Sinardet - has researched how much attention there is in the TV news for events across the language border: 3 percent. Even French-speaking ministers of the Belgian government get little time in the Flemish TV, and vice versa. "It is de facto more useful for a Flemish politican to visit the pub around the corner on a sunday afternoon than to go to the studios of RTBF", Sinardet writes in a recently published book (What Belgium stands for).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 05:57:25 AM EST
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Wow.  It is like Lebanon, but with three groups instead of 18.

right now there are two completely different communities on diverging economic paths and with completely separated media environments.

I hope you'll pardon me for saying this, but that doesn't sound terribly sustainable.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 06:07:54 AM EST
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Which is part of the reason why Verhofstadt's government will probably lose its majority.

(As a clarification: I'm writing this as a Dutchman in Berlin. I can't possibly be offended by anything said about the Belgians. I also have the difficulty of analysing a system I'm not all that familiar with from a distance, but I have a slightly better access to information as I can follow the Dutch-speaking press. I think we have some Belgian readers, like ElcoB IIRC, and I hope they can give additional information)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 06:17:50 AM EST
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Well a double thanks for your effort, then!  I hope our Belgian readers will chime in.  And I hope none of them are offended by my comment either....
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 06:26:35 AM EST
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Yes, good description.

diverging economic paths..

In general this is true (employement, growth...), however this is exagerated most of the time for political gains.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 11:44:35 AM EST
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