All posture, little substance

Belgium's N-VA should be punished at the voting booth for its decision to leave the Government over the UN Global Migration Compact, says Ilhan Kyuchyuk.

Belgian Federal Parliament | Photo credit: Press Association

By Ilhan Kyuchyuk

13 Dec 2018


As a Liberal, I was naturally glad to see the liberal MR taking Government in Belgium in 2014 together with their Flemish counterpart, the Open Vld. The Flemish conservatives CD&V and the Flemish, separatist N-VA then joined, in order to secure a parliamentary majority for this new Government.

At the time, I was wary of the N-VA joining the Government coalition as a junior partner, but was later positively surprised by the constructive approach of all coalition partners.

The current Belgian Government has been successfully fostering prosperity, delivering security and protecting fundamental values. They are in the process of putting their public finances in order, delivering economic and social reforms.


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There has been a results-oriented culture and a lot of effort has been made in the Council to release the exceptional potential of our continent together with other partners in the EU.

Which makes me all the more shocked by N-VA leaving the Government over the UN Global Migration Compact, which was approved by governments from across the world at a conference in Morocco on Monday.

The N-VA, which is facing competition from the far-right Vlaams Belang, is pitching for the hardline, anti-migrant vote in view of the Federal elections coming up next May.

Leading N-VA politicians are selling the decision as a question of principles. What a farce. The budget, the labour market, the economy, environmental issues, education are issues that can lead a political party to stand by its core values and decide to quit the Government.

“Leading N-VA politicians are selling the decision as a question of principles. What a farce … I hope that voters will see through this charade and will punish them accordingly at the voting booth”

However, a legally non-binding UN migration pact, that nobody was interested in until lately, is an absurd reason and I hope that voters will see through this charade and will punish them accordingly at the voting booths.

I am increasingly tired of politicians gambling the future of their entire nation for their short-term political advantage. Former British PM, David Cameron, set a dangerous precedent when he introduced the idea of a referendum on Brexit, in order to win back voters, naively certain that he could U-turn on the decision after the elections.

They all need to be called out for their lax handling of government responsibility. Once in elected office one is responsible to all citizens of the country, not solely one’s own voters. This is being forgotten all too often these days.

Sadly, the migration topic is monopolising our political discourse all across Europe. This is even visible in comparably small decisions, such as the unwillingness to lift the visa requirements for Kosovars, despite the promise to do so, should they fulfil the Copenhagen criteria.

The country made tremendous efforts to carry out what was requested and are now robbed of their deserved prize, because the EU Members States fear to make any concession that even vaguely includes the term ‘migration’.

Economists have long proven across the board, and with unusual agreement, that nearly all of our growing economies need migrants, in order to maintain growth rates and counter our aging population.

They have proven that migrants eventually pay more into our welfare state than they take out. These hard facts never reach the population, however.

“I am increasingly tired of politicians gambling the future of their entire nation for their short-term political advantage. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, set a dangerous precedent when he introduced the idea of a referendum on Brexit”

Instead we continue the scaremongering. Fear poisons the discourse and damages our ability to make sober, informed and rational decisions.

We have many important problems to solve Europe-wide. But we are hampered by the irresponsible behaviour of populists on the left and right.

The so-called “gilet jaune” protests in France are an excellent example of radicals and vandals coming together in order to rampage and destroy, in order to block long-overdue economic reforms that Germany did so successfully before 2010.

Again, a proven economic success story is not convincing. The fear created by those who shout the loudest is enough to send tens of thousands of people to the streets.

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