Belgium Government and Politics
Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of BE and its meanings of Belgium. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and part of northern France together form the Netherlands, which shared a common destiny until 1579. (See Netherlands). The boundaries of where Latin and German were spoken in Europe were at the same time the borders of the Roman Empire, which divided the Netherlands into two.
The conclusion of the Arras Union between the Catholic provinces of Artois and Hainaut in 1579 enabled Spain to resume the war against the Protestant Dutch. The Utrecht peace treaty, signed in 1713, led the southern provinces – Artois, Antwerp, Brabant, Hainaut, Flanders, Liège and Namur – as well as Luxemburg under Charles the 6th, to take over the German-Roman Empire from the Austrian branch of the Habsburg royal house.
According to AllCityCodes.com, the region’s economy was based on the manufacture and trade of textiles, the extent of which led to a huge demographic growth. Coincidence in the interests of landowners and producers, united by the high concentration of weavers, facilitated industrialization. In Ghent, Antwerp and Tournai, factories emerged with more than 100 employees and extremely low wages.
Even before the French Revolution, the Austrian royal house tried to introduce certain liberalization measures, but hesitated because of the conservative uprising in 1789. Napoleon invaded the area in 1794, abolished the autonomy and the privileges of the local nobility, while stimulating the industrial revolution. At the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the European superpowers forced a “merger” of the southern and northern regions, but the southern provinces, where some form of independent identity had been obtained, were not prepared to submit to the Netherlands.
In 1830, the citizens of Brussels took up arms against the Dutch authorities. The conflict spread, and the great powers recognized the independence of the southern provinces – and from that point on the provinces were called Belgium. Parliament adopted a parliamentary monarchy as the governing body, with a constituency of property owners. The duchies of Limburg and Luxemburg are divided between Belgium and the Netherlands.
At the end of the 19th century, workers demanded the right to vote and better working conditions. Following violent clashes, the government passed laws granting the right to housing and the right to work – the laws were introduced especially to improve the conditions for women and children. Parliament introduced a new constitution, and in 1893 general suffrage was introduced, albeit in a somewhat moderate form.
As leader of a group of investors, King Leopold financed the 2nd expedition to the Congo between 1880 and 1885, which was converted into his private enclave. The miserable economic administration, coupled with widespread protests by the European superpowers against the gross repression of the indigenous African population, forced the Belgian authorities to declare the Congo a Belgian colony in 1908. This ended the worst attacks, but both the Belgian authorities, as well as the church and the Belgian traders increased their influence in the area over the following decades.
At the completion of the rail link between Matadi and Leopoldville, present-day Kinshasa, Belgian business leaders and investors requested that the land be annexed, which happened in 1908. The colony’s vast natural wealth was subject to the army’s protection, while the African people were subjected to the worst of the abuses.
Brussels, Dutch Brussels, nicknamed the heart of Europe, the capital of Belgium and one of the country’s three regions. The city is located by Senne, a tributary to Schelde, as well as by the Brussels-Charleroi and Brussels-Rupel canals. The Capital Region is divided into 19 municipalities and has approximately 1.1 million residents (2010). However, the functional urban region is far larger than this area. The languages are French and Dutch.
Business and population
In Brussels, NATO and the West Union headquarters and many of the institutions are located under the EU; the Commission, the Council and Parliament, which hold an annual meeting here. The city is also the headquarters of many multinational companies, which is why employment is concentrated in lobbying, administration and service. Brussels has a Dutch- and a French-language university (1832 and 1970), other colleges and many cultural institutions. The industry (mechanical, electrical, textile and chemical industry) is around the canals and along the approach roads.
A significant proportion of the working people live outside the capital, and during peak hours there are often serious traffic problems despite an extensive motorway and tunnel system, wide access roads and two motorway routes. Public transport is still under development, and a subway network, whose first line was inaugurated in 1976, serves large parts of the city.
Since the mid-1950’s, Brussels has had a strong immigration; over a quarter of the population are foreigners. These are the staff of international institutions and companies with families most often living in the suburbs, and partly of Mediterranean migrants, who mainly live in the inner city; in several municipalities, these two groups make up half the population.
Although Brussels is completely surrounded by the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, 70-80% of its residents speak French. In recent years, this has given rise to serious political problems as the city grows and the move to suburban municipalities whose Flemish status was threatened. According to Flemish requirements, the boundaries of the bilingual metropolitan region have therefore been laid down by law, although several areas are in recent years multilingual.
The western and middle part of the pentagonal inner city, called Ville Basse (the low city), has industrial and commercial districts. Here lies the medieval marketplace Grand ‘Place, one of Europe’s most beautiful plazas, dominated by the Gothic City Hall (1402-50) with a 97m high tower; The square is also surrounded by beautifully decorated low-rise buildings from around 1700 and by the great neo-Gothic Maison du Roi, dating from the 1800’s. and houses the city museum. Nearby is the small fountain Manneken-Pis from 1619. The inner city also houses the park Parc de Brussels between the royal palace (completely rebuilt 1904) and the Belgian federal parliament (late 1700’s) and the Ministry of State. East of the Parc de Brussels lies the European Quarter with the buildings of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. the famous Berlaymont building. The huge court house, Palais de Justice, built 1866-83 by architect Joseph Poelaert, is located in the southern part, where also the beautiful Sablon quarter with the Egmont Palace, several museums and the classicist Place Royale, the center of “the Austrian quarter” from late 1700-t.
On the slope towards Ville Haute (the high city) with the government and administration district is the large Gothic cathedral Saints-Michel-et-Gudule (1200-1400-t.), The Palais des beaux-arts concert and exhibition building and the Bibliothèque royale with rich collections of i.e. illuminated manuscripts. The 1958 World Exhibition, whose landmark Atomium is still a tourist attraction, and in particular the city’s status as an EU capital, has led to a lot of construction, which has greatly changed the cityscape. Great emphasis is placed on preserving and beautifying older neighborhoods, including the many art nouveau buildings by architects like Victor Horta.
Musée d’art ancien in central Brussels contains fine collections of older Flemish art with works of art, among others. Rogier van der Weyden and Pieter Bruegel, some works by Rubens as well as foreign masterpieces.