March 24

Politicians’ power grab

Politicians are considering a new power grab, it seems. This time it’s in Belgium, but this demonstrates that the agenda of many politicians is the same around the world. It is power and more power. They are either outright or closet republicans.

This is the real story behind reports that the politicians want to reduce The King of Belgium's  powers. That is how they explain it. The real agenda is they want to increase their powers.


…power grab….

The reports are based on a survey of party “chairs” published in last weekend editions of the dailies ‘De Standaard’ and ‘La Libre Belgique’. It seems that only the Flemish Christian Democrats do not support the power grab.The stated aim of the politicians’ cabal is to make The King purely “ceremonial”. Readers will not be surprised by the words of the chairman of the Francophone liberals: “An evolution towards a ceremonial monarch is inevitable."  It’s inevitable, I have declared that so don’t argue with me, he is saying.  Politicians determined to expand their already vast powers always say this is inevitable.

…how the politicians grabbed power in Sweden…

The precedent is said to be in Scandinavia. When the Swedish politicians did precisely this in 1974 they handed over The King’s role in the formation of the government to the Speaker, who had traditionally played an independent respected role like the Speaker of the House of Commons usually does. The celebrated Betty Boothroyd, who held office from 1992 to 2000 was a model. (A Labour MP, she was elected and re-elected by a House which had a Conservative majority.)

…the Crown's crucial role in hung parliaments…

It should be remembered that ‘hung’ parliaments are the norm in many continental countries. Until 1974 The King of Sweden therefore had an important role in the formation of the governments – as will the Governor of Tasmania after the March 2010 election. The important thing is that The King is above politics, as is the Governor of Tasmania. In 1974 the Swedish politicians transferred The King’s important prerogative role to the Speaker, until then a respected office filled by convention.

That was to change. By 1979, the office had been converted into what the considerable British constitutionalist Vernon Bogdanor said was now a ‘plaything of the party battle’.

Had the politicians planned this or were they merely naïve? 

In any event the Swedish politicians achieved what their Australian counterparts wanted to do on a grander scale in 1999. The Australian republican politicians tried to remove the Crown, our oldest institution which is at the very heart of the constitutional system.  They wanted to takover all the powers the Crown denies them.

They converted a constitutional check and balance on their potential excesses into a plaything of party battle.

…the Constitution – the ultimate protection….

Fortunately for there to be a substantive constitutional change in Belgium, the people have to be consulted in the way the British monarch required in 1911. Immediately after the amendment is formally adopted by Parliament, it is dissolved and an election follows. The new Parliament can then proceed with the proposed amendment – if two thirds support it.

…The great King Baudouin……

A video on the life of The King’s brother, the internationally admired and  respected King Baudouin who reigned from 1951 to 1993 follows. {youtube}ant0I5lOMG0{/youtube}


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