According to jibin123, the Belgian political scenario has not substantially changed in the last fifteen years, if we consider that the Christian socialists (in government since the Second World War except for a brief interruption between 1954 and 1958) have kept the reins of the executive, alternating alliances of center-right and center-left with the liberals or socialists.

In March 1977, the government led by L. Tindemans found itself in a minority when the Rassemblement Wallon (from which the liberal wing had separated in 1976 to create, together with the Parti de la liberté et du progrès, the new Parti des réformes et de la liberté en Wallonie) abandoned the partners of the government coalition due to the failure to implement the 1970 regionalization project.

The early political elections, which were held in April, recorded a strengthening of the two Christian-social parties (Flemish and Walloon) and of the socialists, and a decline in linguistic groupings (Front démocratique francophone and Volksunie). Tindemans then formed a new broad coalition government (Christian-social, socialist, Walloon and Flemish linguistic parties) on the basis of an economic program to relaunch employment and production, and a project for a federal reform of the state, which provided for a broad administrative, economic and cultural autonomy for the two communities – Flemish and Walloon – and the three regions, Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels area. The government project transferred to the communities the competence for the sectors of education, culture, assistance and health, and the regions were responsible for the economic sectors, while the state remained with foreign affairs, defense, finances, foreign trade and monetary policy. Both the regions and the two communities would have been endowed, again according to the government plan, with their own representative and executive bodies elected by universal suffrage.

But the disagreements that arose in Parliament, especially on the part of the Flemish Christian-socialists, on the constitutionality of the plan, prevented the passing of legislation, while in October 1978 the resigning Tindemans was replaced, until the following early political elections in December 1978, by party colleague P. Van Den Boeynants.

However, the electoral results did not change the previous balance of forces – except for a further decline in the Volksunie – thus keeping the situation unchanged. Only in April 1979, after 108 days of negotiations, was the formation of a new coalition government (between the two Christian-social parties, the two socialist parties and the Democratic Front of the Francophone, of Brussels) led by the leader of the Flemish Christian Socialists, W. Martens.

Even this time, however, the ethnic question was not definitively resolved. In the following two years, in fact, already unstable due to the serious economic crisis that had hit the textile and steel industry and that had hit Wallonia above all, the reform project presented by the government clashed with the opposition of the State Council – who judged it unconstitutional – while on several occasions between 1979 and 1980 the ethnic tensions between Flemings and Walloons returned to appear. In August 1980, the statute of autonomy for Flanders and Wallonia was approved. This first result, which left the settlement of Brussels in abeyance (located in Flemish territory with a population of French speakers equal to 85%),

However, the political framework continued to be characterized by sharp divergences also within the government structure, especially in matters of economic policy. The socialists, majority in Wallonia, in fact asked for a policy of support for production and employment, while the Christian-socialists, majority in Flanders, supported an economic choice of austerity. The clash between the two parties led to the crisis of the Martens government (March 1981), to the replacement of these by party mate M. Eyskens, and, after just five months, to the early elections in November 1981. The elections recorded a serious decline socialists, a notable increase in liberals and a substantial holding of socialists. L’

The government, obtained from Parliament special powers of intervention in economic matters (February 1982), launched a program of economic and monetary stabilization (devaluation of the currency equal to 8.5%, freezing of wages and prices, increases in taxation tax cuts, public spending cuts), harshly contested by the socialists.

Despite episodes of social protest and strong trade union resistance to such measures, the government maintained an economic line of austerity thanks also to the renewal by Parliament, in July 1983, of the special powers (and subsequently replaced, in June 1984, by a three-year austerity program voted by Parliament).

Confirmed in the following early political elections in October 1985 – also thanks to the first positive results of the economic policy pursued in previous years -, the Martens government found itself facing an escalation of a left-wing terrorism led by the Combatant Communist Cells (CCC): linked to the German RAF, this group carried out, between the end of 1984 and the first months of 1986, a series of bomb attacks against NATO bases and center-right party headquarters. With the arrest of the CCC leadership team (1986), the phenomenon of terrorism seemed to have been eradicated, at least until the kidnapping, in January 1989, of the former prime minister P. Van Den Boeynants, by the Brigades socialistes révolutionnaires (the release took place in February after the family had paid a large ransom sum).

In October 1987, faced with the impossibility of resolving the ethnic dispute concerning the administration of the French-speaking municipality of Les Fourons (which had been included in the Flemish district of Limburg since the 1960s), Martens resigned and elections anticipated (December), the results of which (decline in Flemish Christian-socialists and net increase in socialists) led to the formation of a new coalition cabinet led by Martens and opened in the Volksunie and the socialists. In August 1988 the first phase of the constitutional reform was approved by the two branches of Parliament, aimed at carrying out the project for the transformation of the state into a federal sense (see above). In January 1989 a second constitutional reform was approved which provides for the transfer of financial resources from the central to the regional authorities, with a corrective mechanism for the gap between the poorest Wallonia and the more developed Flanders in the form of an equalization between the funds allocated to the three regions. In March 1990 the refusal of the king, motivated by religious convictions, to affix his signature to the law approved by Parliament on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, opened a constitutional crisis.

Belgium History in the 1970's and 1980's

Belgium History in the 1970’s and 1980’s
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