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Interview with Dirk Verhofstadt, brother of the former prime minister.

nrc.nl - International - European elections 2009 - 'Europe risks becoming a footnote in history'

In the run-up to the European elections, what issues are being debated in Belgium?

"On Sunday June 7, the Belgium people will not only vote in European elections, but also in regional elections. Inevitably, the latter is getting the most attention. This dual vote clearly influences the campaigns being waged by the various candidates for the European parliament. We find that little attention is given to substance, to the most pressing issues in Europe, to the different conceptions of Europe. There is a strong movement that plays on fear and uncertainty among people about the outcome of the financial crisis. What will happen with my savings? Will I be able to keep my job? Can I keep up with my mortgage? But in the answers that politicians give, we clearly see an increase in nationalist and protectionist sentiments.

A key issue in European politics is market ideology, especially with the financial crisis. In Belgium, is there debate about whether the market ideology of Brussels needs to be amended?

"There is some discussion about market ideology, but this is certainly not a big topic. There is a widespread feeling that we have seen too much deregulation. But in my personal opinion, I think many people who voice this criticism wrongly equate liberalism with neo-liberalism. Adam Smith wrote that a market without regulations will not function correctly. What we need is more of this kind of liberalism, with a market that offers space for creativity, and with a social system that offers protection if things go wrong.

"Many people now understand that if you follow the neo-liberalist line and become a market fundamentalist, you will get the financial abuses that have come to light in the last months. Greed is an important factor in liberalist theory, and we should be able to control it by forcing people to accept the consequences if they insist on high risk-taking: you can win a lot, you can loose a lot."

by Nomad on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 05:38:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How common are his views in Belgium?  And is he involved directly in politics?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's almost funny. American Conservatives had switched from France to Belgium as an European caricature. For example,

Liberal Views, Belgian Brains (Jonah Goldberg, NRO)

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 04:54:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You owe me five minutes of my life that I just wasted on that drivel.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 05:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's introduction to

Modern Conservative Intellectuals 101

I hope these comments will provide better reading 102.

by das monde on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I even understand his point, other than Europeans and liberals are just fascists. I think he was trying to say that people who mock people who say the above are fascists themselves. Oh, and Europe is "liberal-fascistically" evil.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:08:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you do understand his point.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 06:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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