The Belgianisation of Europe

A quote from Charlemagne in The Economist, 26 November 2009

Lots of European countries indulge in shadowy coalition politics, with jobs divvied out among rival parties, but Belgium takes the biscuit. All Belgian governments are big coalitions, uniting parties that loathe one another, staffed by fixed quotas of ministers from the French- and Dutch-speaking communities (who also cannot stand each other). Democracy barely counts, as even parties thumped at the ballot box return to office. What is the link between this and the selection of Herman Van Rompuy as the first full-time president of the European Council, and of Catherine Ashton as a new foreign-policy chief? It is the European weakness for coalition politics, in which a quest for “balance” all too often trumps talent or merit.