The political history of Belgium is a fascinating story that should not be kept from speakers of English in Belgium and abroad.
From an international point of view, Belgium has been a trendsetter in many ways. It was the first country on the European continent to experience a quick process of industrialisation, with the development of the first liberal state following closely behind. More than elsewhere, liberalism reigned supreme in the 19th century, and as a result the social question was raised with great vehemence. The World Wars put Belgium in the middle of the fighting twice over; especially after 1945, the country played a prominent international role, first in the foundation of the Atlantic alliance and the European construction, and later in the decolonisation of the Congo. In the meantime, Belgium has developed into one of the countries experiencing the full force of globalisation, and, thanks to Brussels, into one of the preeminent international political centres.
Belgium is also a model of pacification democracy. Throughout many conflicts during the 19th and 20th centuries, an enduring compromise grew between Catholics and freethinkers, making Belgium one of the most pluralistic countries in Europe today. The fierce conflict between workers and employers, in its turn, led to a well-functioning model of a consultation and welfare state. Two cultures live together in Belgium. Up until the second half of the past century, the Flemish majority was at an economic, political and cultural disadvantage; during the process of catching up, coinciding with the demise of the Walloon economy, a complex federal model developed, in which cosmopolitan Brussels takes a very special position.
This book aims to offer a historical perspective in interpreting the current tensions in Belgian politics based on scientific literature.
Political History of Belgium is without doubt the outstanding authoritative reference work about the political history of a country at the centre of the development of Europe. As such, it offers essential background information for politicians, policy makers, civil servants, journalists, researchers, students and anyone with an interest in Belgium and Europe.