The Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Conference Committee:
Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law, UQ
Thomas John, Chair, European Focus Group, LCA
Nicholas Aroney, Reader in Law, UQ
Hendryk Flaegel, International Law Section, LCA


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Many authors are now speaking of Belgium as a country with some aspects of a confederation. C.E. Lagasse wrote it about the agreements between Belgian Regions and Communities: "We are near the political system of a Confederation."[3] Vincent de Coorebyter, Director of the CRISP[4] wrote in Le Soir "Belgium is undoubtedly a federation... [but] has some aspects of a confederation."[5] Michel Quevit, Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven wrote also in Le Soir "The Belgian political system is already in dynamics of a Confederation."[6] The same author wrote previously about this issue in 1984 with other professors.[7] Nevertheless, the Belgian regions and communities lack the crucial autonomy to leave the Belgian state. As such, the federal aspects seems to dominate. Also for fiscal policy and public finances, the federal state dominates the other levels of government. The limited confederal aspects appear to be a meager po itical reflection of the profound sociological, cultural and economic differences between Flemings and Walloons (or French-speaking Belgians). Those two communities behave as two distinctive nations. These differences stem from the choices of the vast majority of Belgians. As an example, since several decades, over 95% of the Belgians vote for political parties who only represent voters from one community. Parties that advocate Belgian unity and appeal to voters of both communities systematically get only a few percent of the votes. This makes Belgium fundamentally different from federal countries as Switzerland, Canada, Germany and Australia. In those countries, national parties get over 90% of the votes. The only comparable places with Belgium are Catalonia, the Basque Country and Scotland. These also have a majority voter turnout for local political parties, and national parties total less (or much less) than half of the votes.

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