Belgium. The elections held in June, partly for the regional parliaments and partly for the European Parliament, seemed to point to increased polarization in Belgian politics. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Liberal Party VLD suffered a setback, as did the sister party MR in Wallonia. The socialist parties, on the other hand, progressed in both regions, as did Brussels.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Belgium is 11,589,634 people in 2020. Most notable was the continued advancement of the Flemish Blok’s extremist nationalist Flemish. The party has steadily increased in several consecutive elections and now received a quarter of the votes in Flanders. Even in Wallonia and Brussels, right-wing parties strengthened their position somewhat. The established parties continued to exclude Vlaams Blok from cooperation. The party is xenophobic and advocates independence for Flanders. In November, the country’s highest court ruled that Vlaam Blok is racist, which in practice meant that it was banned. The party leadership responded by dissolving the party and allowing it to resurface under a new name: Vlaams Belang.
One result of the elections was that one third of the national government’s members resigned to take up posts at regional level. Foreign Minister Louis Michel was also appointed a new EU Commissioner. A new government was therefore formally formed in July.
After a nearly three-month trial in June, child murderer Marc Dutroux, called “Belgium’s most hated man”, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was charged with robbing and raping six girls, of which only two survived. His ex-wife Michelle Martin received 30 years in prison for assisting. Although the police investigation was ongoing for more than seven years before the trial, there was no evidence to confirm stubborn rumors that Dutroux would have been part of a pedophile network with ramifications far into the community.
In January, six people were sentenced to long prison sentences for lying behind the 1991 murder of politician André Cools. He must have been on the verge of exposing abuses within the Flemish Socialist Party and murdered at the behest of party mates. The police investigation led to a scandal that shook Belgium in the 1990s, with extensive disclosures about top-level dirty business.
A severe gas explosion occurred in July outside Brussels. Eighteen people were killed and over 100 were damaged when natural gas pipelines exploded.
|57 BC||Current Belgium is conquered by the Romans under the leadership of Julius Caesar.|
|The 400s and 500s||Belgium will be part of the Merovingian francs.|
|843-870||The Belgian territories are divided between the eastern and western Frankish kingdoms.|
|900-1000||The language boundary between Flemish and Walloon can be regarded as fully developed.|
|1000’s||From the 11th century, Belgium became an important economic center in Europe through trade and textile production.|
|13th and 1300s||Contradictions between the French monarch and the Belgian cities.|
|1384-1435||Belgium will belong to the dukes of Burgundy.|
|1477||Karl the Bold of Burgundy Falls. Belgium goes to the Habsburg house.|
|1556||Belgium will obey Spain.|
|1567-1648||Dutch War of Independence.|
|1585||The Spanish conquer Antwerp and secure control over Belgium. Economic downturn.|
|1701-14||Spanish War of Succession. Belgium goes to the Austrian Habsburgs.|
|1789-95||Rebellion against the Austrians. Belgium is being incorporated with France.|
|1815||At the Vienna Congress, Belgium joins the Netherlands and Luxembourg with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.|
|1830-39||Belgium breaks out of the Union and becomes an independent kingdom (1830) with superpower-guaranteed neutrality.|
|1800s||Early and extensive industrialization in Belgium, especially in Wallonia.|
|1885||King Leopold II is granted Congo (Zaire) as a private colony. This is taken over by the Belgian state in 1908.|
|1914-18||Most of Belgium is occupied by the Germans during the First World War. At the Versailles Peace in 1919, Belgium acquired Eupen-Malmédy from Germany.|
|1940-44||Germany occupies Belgium.|
|1951||After hard domestic politics, King Leopold III is forced to abdicate because of his actions during the war.|
|1960||Congo becomes independent.|
|1962-63||Sharp contradictions between Flemish and Walloon. The language limit is fixed.|
|1970||Ethnic contradictions continue, and the major parties are divided along language lines.|
|1989||A constitutional amendment is adopted.|
|1993||Constitutional reform is approved by Parliament. Belgium becomes a federal state.|
|1996||Modernization of the judicial system begins.|