An Bheilg (Belgium)

Europe’s Democratic Tide

Quick post to highlight a couple of interesting articles touching upon Scotland’s independence campaign, the first from Conn Hallinan at Foreign Policy In Focus examining the rise of national self-determination across Europe, while Paul J. Carnegie looks specifically at the Scottish case for CounterPunch. Both are well worth reading.

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Eurocracy – The ECB’s Billion Euro Palace

The European Union's overclass - all snouts to the trough

The European Union’s overclass – all snouts to the trough

From Der Spiegel:

“Rain was falling on Frankfurt’s Ostend neighborhood as financial managers and local officials drove past dark corner bars, betting offices and the Amor sex shop to the site of the future headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB).

It was May 19, 2010. Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president at the time, had invited his guests to a dicey part of the city for the groundbreaking ceremony. They gathered in front of the building pit, from which a futuristic tower was to arise: an architecturally thrilling, 45-story skyscraper, a symbol of the power of Europe’s shared currency.

Three-and-a-half years later, in the fall of 2013, there is a different reality in Frankfurt’s Ostend district. Instead of the original estimated cost of €500 million ($690 million), the entire project will now cost at least €1.15 billion and could even eventually climb to €1.3 billion.

The demands of the project’s European managers were apparently as sky-high as the new tower. Vienna-based architect Wolf Prix and his firm, Coop Himmelb(l)au, had designed the building as two twisted towers connected by hanging gardens, made almost entirely of glass and steel. The skyscraper looks more like a giant sculpture than an office building.

When the monetary watchdogs move into their new home, their offices are likely to be among the most expensive in the euro zone. As the complex will house about 2,000 employees and cost more than €1 billion to build, each workspace will be worth about €600,000, or as much as a very comfortable single-family home. In commercial real estate, €30,000 per desk space is usually considered “upscale.””

The Two Belgiums

Every now and again I have a look at news and current affairs from Belgium, that most interesting of artificial nation-states. Sometimes it is hard to believe that the country exists at all such is the degree of extreme separation that exists between the French-speaking Walloons and Dutch-speaking Flemish. With two national communities sharing one state (not to mention a tiny German-speaking minority), outside of a few regions like the communal, bilingual (and much disputed) capital city of Brussels, people from both sides rarely meet and rarely mix.

The country is rigidly divided along linguistic lines with each community living inside its own ethnic bubble: they have their own separate administrations, municipalities, political parties, societies, trade unions, professional associations, schools, radio and television stations, newspapers… the list goes on and on. There are a few things that bind the nation together. A shared monarchy (that now means more to French-speakers than Dutch), a federal social welfare system, a national economy (sort of), a national armed forces (though even that is not immune to inter-communal tensions), and a few other things that keep the mismatched jigsaw in place. Just about. Yet many believe the strain of holding the centre ground is beginning to show and it is only a matter of time before a breakup occurs. But then they’ve been saying that for the last three or four decades.

So to a good overview from Michael Palo in the EU Observer, reviewing a new book examining Belgium and the nationally crucial institution of monarchy:

“When the language census of 1947 indicated a growth in the number of French-speakers on the periphery of Brussels and led to an increase in the number of the city’s municipalities from 16 to 19, Flemings protested. Spearheaded by a new Flemish nationalist party – Volksunie (VU) (the People’s Union) founded in 1954 – the Flemings began marching on Brussels and boycotted en masse the language census of 1961. The renewed militancy among Flemings reinforced the feeling among Walloons, in the wake of the abortive strikes of 1961, that the only way to limit the impact of economic and fiscal policies that they perceived were detrimental to the industrial heartland of their region was to encourage further devolution of power to Wallonia. Such was the background to the so-called Gilson Language Laws of 1962-63, which fixed the linguistic frontier, so that the bilingual district of Brussels-Capital City was limited to 19 communes. In six communes surrounding Brussels – Drogenbos, Kraainem, Linkebeek, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Wemmel, and Wezembeek-Oppem – facilities for French-speakers, such as being able to deal with officials in French and having their children educated in the language of their choice, were to be provided. Language facilities were also guaranteed for the 70,000 or so German-speakers in the eastern part of the country.

More controversial, despite the guarantee of language facilities, was the transfer of the Voeren (Fourons) from the Province of Liège to the Province of Limburg. As Van Goethem writes: “Between 1970 and 1990 the Voer district was constantly in the news, largely because of the refusal of the local burgomaster, a farmer named José Happart, to use the Dutch language. . . . Happart’s principled stand not only led to street fights in the otherwise peaceful villages of the Voer, but also became a casus belli between the Flemings and Walloons, splitting national political life neatly down the linguistic middle and occasionally leading to the fall of the government.”

The state reforms of 1970 came at the end of a decade that saw the appearance of two new political parties – the Brussels-based Front Démocratique des Francophones (not the Front des Francophones as called by Van Goethem) and the Rassamblement Wallon, which won their first parliamentary seats in the general election of March 1968. At the same time, radical Flemish student organisations succeeded in getting the French section of the Catholic University of Leuven transferred to Walloon Brabant (specifically to Ottignies, now called Louvain-la-Neuve) after a vehement campaign “with their insulting (but nonetheless popular) slogans, such as Walen buiten (Walloons Out!) and Leuven Vlaams (Leuven for the Flemish!).”

The key constitutional changes took place in 1970, 1980, and 1993. They created three Regions and three linguistic Communities with their respective Councils and Executives that would be able to issue decrees and sign treaties with foreign countries in matters for which they had competence. Legislation affecting the linguistic communities from 1970 on had to be the consequence of ‘special majority law’ that ‘could only be passed if there was a majority in favour in both the Flemish and Walloon groupings in both the Lower House and the Senate, on condition that a majority of the members of each language grouping was present during the vote and on condition that the resulting number of votes in favour of the law exceed two-thirds of the total number of votes cast.’ In addition, there was an alarm bell procedure: “If a proposed law threatened to seriously disrupt relations between the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities, it was possible for the parliamentary passage of this law to be temporarily suspended if this was requested by a motion of deferment signed by three-quarters of the members of a particular language grouping. In this case, the proposed law would be forwarded to the ministerial council, which would issue its findings on the matter in 30 days.” As Van Goethem stresses, these measures were designed to protect the Walloon minority, as was the rule that “there would be equal numbers of Dutch-speaking and French-speaking ministers.”

Following the elections of November 1991, which saw the breakaway Vlaams Blok (Flemish Bloc) win 12 of 212 seats in the Chamber of Representatives, that is, two more seats than the VU, inter-party negotiations led to the signing of the St. Michael (St. Michel/St. Michiels) Accord on 29 September 1992. Article 1 of the Constitution amended in 1993 now read: “Belgium is a federal state, composed of different regions and communities.” From now on, members of the Regional and Community Councils were to be directly elected, while further responsibilities and powers were devolved to them.

In his “diagnosis,” Van Goethem stresses that Flemings increasingly see Wallonia as “a foreign country.” Hence, “it is indisputable that “Belgian-ness” belongs to a national past which is unlikely to ever return.” He cites a number of examples to make his point, including the fact that Flemings and Walloons almost never read newspapers or look at TV stations from the other community. Another feature that undermines Belgian national unity is the absence of national political parties.

In terms of what keeps Belgium together, Van Goethem lists public opinion itself, the monarchy, key government departments that have kept their “national” status, such as Social Insurance, trade unions, and lastly, Brussels. On the problem of Brussels, he admits that, “Flanders without Brussels would find it very hard to ‘go it alone.’” Still, Brussels and its peripheral communes, where French-speakers refuse to use Dutch even when they understand it, are destined, in our author’s opinion, to remain sources of dissension and division.

As for the future, Van Goethem states that, “Given the institutional and historical weaknesses inherent in the Belgian system, the maintenance of the status quo is not a viable option.” He sees some kind of ‘new confederal model à la belge,’ as the most likely scenario. He closes with a look at the situation in 2010 and concludes: “the nationality question is indeed still the gravest problem in Belgium.””

Bizarrely, looking at Belgium, one is struck once again by how united Ireland actually is, irrespective of one’s nationality or identity (chosen or otherwise). A shared British influence increasingly permeating all aspects of the country, a shared English-speaking Anglo-American culture, a shared Anglo-American neo-liberal view of society and the economy, a shared English-based sports following, a shared centre-right elite at the top of society, politics and the media. The only true markers of division in modern Ireland are in some ways language. Irish-speakers versus English-speakers.

But here is a twist to the Belgium story, via the Times of Israel:

“Few Jewish couples define their marriage as “mixed” just because bride and groom were born and raised 30 miles apart in the same country.

But Linda and Bernard Levy live in Belgium, a country whose long experiment in fusing two distinct cultures recently has been showing signs of breakdown. With the Dutch-speaking Flemish half of the country increasingly at odds with the French-speaking part, Belgium’s corresponding Jewish communities are finding themselves at loggerheads as well.

Linda was born in Antwerp, the capital of Flanders in the self-governing Flemish region. She rarely uses Flemish (similar to Dutch), the language of her youth, since she married Bernard, a Francophone from Brussels. They live just outside Brussels with their three children.

“Language is actually a non-issue in mixed marriages like ours,” she said. “Flemish Jews are usually bilingual.”

But a recent rupture in relations between Belgium’s Flemish and French-speaking Jewish communities, each with approximately 20,000 members, has exposed some profound ideological differences between the two communities, particularly on Israel.

The trigger was Belgium’s decision in March to join Austria as the only two EU countries to vote in favor of a UN-led investigation of West Bank settlements.

Belgium’s Flemish and French-speaking Jewish communities long have maintained a modus vivendi for cooperation under which they always approached federal authorities together. But on the vote on the UN probe, the two communities broke with each other.

Flemish Jews, represented by the Forum of Jewish Organizations, or FJO, met with Belgium’s justice minister and released a statement saying that “the Jewish community was shocked and appalled” by the vote.

By contrast, French-speaking Jews, represented by the Umbrella Organization of Jewish Institutions of Belgium — known by the French initials CCOJB — did not condemn Belgium’s vote.

The Jews of Antwerp and Brussels long have been different. Jews from Antwerp tend to be more religious, tight-knit and hawkish on Israel, while their Brussels coreligionists are more liberal, according to laymen and leaders from both communities. Antwerp has 13 Jewish schools compared to three in Brussels.

The split between the Jewish communities of Belgium mirrors what in recent years has become a national woe: the widening gulf separating Flemish and French-speaking Belgians.

One of the first big splits hit the Belgian Socialist Party in 1978, two years before the creation of the Flemish Region and the onset of Belgian federalism, when the party split in two. There not only are two socialist parties now representing Francophones on the one hand and the Flemish on the other, but two Christian Democratic parties, two liberal parties and even two green parties. The secessionist New Flemish Alliance wants the Flemish part of the country to pull out of Belgium altogether.

The very creation of a separate institution representing only Flemish Jews was itself a part of the same process. Founded 50 years ago, the CCOJB umbrella group used to represent — nominally, at least — Jews from both Flanders and Wallonia, the French-speaking region of the country. But in 1993 the Flemish community splintered off and formed FJO, reflecting the sentiment that Jews from Antwerp were not really represented in the main community umbrella group.

Michael Freilich, editor in chief of Belgium’s leading Jewish publication, Joods Actueel, says the two communities inhabit two distinct political universes.

‘It’s very difficult to lobby together when you inhabit two different, parallel political realities’

Due to the political system, “in Flanders you can only vote for Flemish parties and in Wallonia only for French-speaking parties, even though parties from both regions sit in government,” Freilich said. “This means politicians who matter to Wallonians don’t matter to Flemish and vice versa. It’s very difficult to lobby together when you inhabit two different, parallel political realities.”

Belgium’s political crisis resulted last year in a new world record: Belgium went for 541 days without an elected government because Flemish and Wallonian representatives could not reach a compromise. That was one of several crises since 2007 that has caused many in Belgium and elsewhere to doubt Belgium’s sustainability as a unified state.”

Enclaves And Exclaves. Why A Europe With Borders Is (Sometimes) More Fun

Old map of Europe, Renaissance period

I love maps and the things one can learn from maps (you can probably blame J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert for that one). Imaginary maps, real maps, historical maps, all fascinate me. As I child I drew my own in complex and intricate detail (much to the chagrin of my father and grandmother who added it to the many other things that made me an unwelcome non-conformist in their lives). Around the age of twelve I began working on a series of maps, elaborately illustrated, to accompany and tease out a body of stories that I had begun to write as part of an imagined world of my own. I dubbed the tales the “Otherworld Cycle”, with inspiration drawn from Irish and Celtic Mythology and a nod and a wink to a Tolkienesque setting (yes, the very same Tolkienism that in adult life I would criticise for appearing in the works of modern fantasy writers; though in my defence over the next seven years the tales grew far beyond their initial form. Recently I went looking for those maps and was saddened to realise that somewhere along the way they had been lost).

Perhaps another reason for my cartographic interests was being Irish. I grew up in An Pháil “The Pale”, the region around Dublin city that had once been the bastion of the British colony in Ireland and some of which had been defended in the Medieval period by an elaborate network of banks and ditches, walls and palisades (hence the Pale). It was our own extremely modest (and unwelcome) Great Wall of China, though little of it now survives. On one side were the British settlers; on the other the natives – i.e. the Irish (and some argue that is still the situation).

Of course things were far more complex than that during the Middle Ages. The population beyond the Pale (recognise the expression?) was in fact a complex mix: overwhelmingly Native Irish with smaller communities and families of Scandinavian-Irish, Norman-Irish and Anglo-Irish origin. Most of these “foreigners” had been thoroughly assimilated over the centuries, becoming “more Irish than the Irish themselves”. Irish speaking, Irish thinking. Outside the Pale isolated colonies of Englishness did exist, some in seas of Irishness that waxed and waned with the changing political and military fortunes of the times. Most hugged the coastline or lived a paranoid existence at strategic points around the country, river crossings and the like, always wary of the “mere Irish” (mere means “pure”, in contrast to the mixed blood of the Norman-British and British colonists, some of whom, after a century or two, could be barely distinguished in speech or customs from the indigenous foe).

An Pháil, the Pale, a map of the British Colony in Ireland, 1488

Inside the British heartland of the Pale old and new blended together, so that the Irish language and culture remained native to Dublin and its hinterlands long after English became the language of officialdom and the culture of “polite” society. Irish-speakers may have been the hewers of wood and drawers of water but some of their supposedly English masters were not that far away from them in language or blood.

The area around the Pale abounded with “Marcher Lands”: disputed territories and buffer zones between native and invader. My own family’s ancestral lands, Muintir Thadhgháin, lay in one such region far to the south-west. There the Ó Sionnaigh contested with Norman-Irish, Anglo-Irish, English and at times fellow Irish in a centuries-long struggle for survival that eventually saw their kingdom collapse. It was Oliver Cromwell and his captains who divided my “home” amongst themselves, spoils of war doled out to soldiers-cum-settlers in a style that the Roman legions would have recognised.

Look at any map of 14th or 15th century Ireland and one’s head will spin trying to see through the complex, fluid layers of claim and counter-claim, of pure ethnicities and mixed ones, of competing lordships and territories. At times the English are in the ascendancy and one wonders how the Irish fended them off for so long. At other times the Irish are masters of all that they can see, the map is “green” and the English colony is reduced to a desperate, tattered remnant begging England for succour. And one wonders: if only

Yet, there was no “if only” or at least not until much, much later. Even then it was not to be the future many wished and dreamed of. For there remains in the north-east of the island the last, diminished part of the British colony in Ireland: a veritable Northern Pale. While elsewhere the British settlers had gradually succumbed to the allure of being Irish, in the north the latest “planters” had long resisted any hope of assimilation through language and religion, and an inherent culture of violence. And so another British border was imposed in Ireland, and like all the other British borders before it the line wound broken and crooked, a meaningless marker that was more provocation than demarcation.

An old map of Europe by the Antwerp cartographer Abraham Ortelius, dated to 1595

So to the present day and some interesting comparisons from contemporary Europe on borders and the varied legacies of European history, presented in cartographic form. Have you heard of the small town of Baarle? It’s a Dutch town. It’s also a Belgium town. Confused? Enclaves of the World provides an explanation:

“Europe and perhaps the world’s most famous enclaves are the municipalities of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog. These are located on the border between The Netherlands and Belgium south of the Dutch city of Tilburg. Baarle-Hertog consists of 22 Belgian exclaves surrounded by Dutch territory. These cover a total of 2.34 km² and have a population of about 2,200.

Baarle-Nassau consists of eight Dutch exclaves, seven of which are embodied within the Belgian exclaves of Baarle-Hertog. These enclaves within enclaves are known as counter-enclaves. The eighth enclave is situated in Belgium just south of the border, north-west of Ginhoven. These cover a total of 0.15 km² and have a population of about 130 engaged mostly in agriculture. Tourism has become the major economic activity in the village areas with increasing numbers of people attracted to Baarle by the complexity of its borders. To make the enclaves’ borders more visible to the visitor, metal disks have been fixed to form dotted lines on the roads. The boundaries on the footpaths have been delineated by grey stones with inset white crosses.

Baarle’s intricate enclave situation developed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when the area was primarily used for agriculture with many of the parcels relating to paddocks and crops. Since then, the Baarle landscape has gradually changed to be more urban and former fields have been replaced with houses, fences and roads. This often occurred without regard to the actual boundaries between Baarle Hertog and Baarle Nassau. It appears that it was often easier to establish developments in an orderly fashion rather than to fit the convoluted enclave framework. Today many of the properties do not align with the borders but rather conform to more sensible and practical street designs. It follows that many properties are bisected by what are now international boundaries leading to a range of potential administrative problems. In these cases, a practical outcome has been to allocate nationality based upon the country in which their front door is located. This, however, has lead to homeowners blocking doorways and opening new ones in order to seek some advantage from the alternative jurisdiction. And there are those who exploit the ambiguity of having their front door positioned so as to be divided by the frontier.”

Fantastic! If ever a place appeals to the carto-nerd in me Baarle is it (“carto-nerd” is my own invention, by the by. I don’t expect it to catch on…). I love all these Ruritanian-style territories in Europe (and yes, I’m a big fan of the Andorras and San Marinos too. Sad, I know). I blame, in this case, an Irish-American writer: Leonard Wibberley and his classic Cold War satire The Mouse that Roared. Seeing the masterful Peter Sellars in the movie of the same name didn’t help either. I don’t think the book, and its sequels, are in print anymore which is a shame. Dated though they were they were also wonderfully written (or at least so they remain in my memory and who am I to gainsay that?).

How about this one?

“The Vennbahn is a Belgian railway line that cuts into German territory south of Aachen between the towns of Rötgen and Monschau. Because Belgium owns the land that the railway is on, it effectively separates five pieces of land from the rest of Germany. Typically this separation is only the width of the railway corridor.

The enclaves are called Munsterbildchen, Rötgener Wald, Rückschlag, Mützenich and Ruitzhof. Between 23 and 29,000 people live in the enclaves.”

German communities used to be found all over central and eastern Europe (sizeable chunks of modern Poland were “German” until 1945), in part as remnants of the Holy Roman Empire – the Germanic one, that is. They still survive in some places:

“Büsingen is a German exclave within Switzerland along the Rhine near Schaffhausen. It covers 7.6 km² in area and contains a population of about 1,500 people. Büsingen has a mixed economy including service-related activities in the built up areas and agriculture.

In 1967, a nearby German enclave called Verenahof was transferred to Switzerland. Verenahof was a tiny enclave of 43 hectares containing just three farms with all residents being Swiss nationals. The transfer only occurred following numerous attempts since 1815 by Switzerland to acquire the territory.”

There is much more on Enclaves of the World along these lines if your interest is piqued (in which case you should probably pop out and purchase “Vanished Kingdoms: The history of half-forgotten Europe” by Norman Davies which explore’s related themes. I cannot recommend it highly enough). You can also check out Jan. S Krogh’s very similar site too.

Belgium, A State But Not A Nation

Some time ago I carried out a whirlwind round-up of news relating to the political fortunes of progressive nationalist movements in Europe and North America, from the Basque Country to Québec. I retuned to Québec this week and looked at the possible lessons for our own divided province of nine-county Ulster. But my original round-trip began with Belgium, and it is to Belgium that I return after the country marked its anniversary last week of 450 days without a national government.

Euronews carries a report on the event, as well as the possibility of the political stalemate being brought to an end. However some commentators believe a more likely scenario is a new general election and a surge in support for Flemish nationalist parties which could hasten the break-up of the dysfunctional kingdom-cum-federation.

All of which of course has some very real consequences not just for Belgium but for the European Union as a whole, and the independence project of the SNP in Scotland. If Flanders can successfully negotiate a transition to independence within the EU then Scotland will surely have a template to follow which can only bolster its demands for an orderly breakup of the UK state.

The political fortunes of Belgium, like Québec, Catalonia and the Basque Country, is something to keep an eye on for all progressive nationalists.

Plucky Little Belgium – Or Why Artificial States Fail

The Irish Times reports on the continued deadlock in Belgium – and why one way or another something is going to give

‘In the metro stations of Brussels they pipe old pop hits for commuters. Songs in English, Spanish and Italian can be heard. They no longer play songs in French, the city’s main language, because Dutch-speakers took umbrage. No battle is too trivial in Belgium’s language wars. If the linguistic schism permeates everything in Belgian life, the divisions are only worsening.’

Meanwhile in Italy the quasi-nationalist/separatist/federalist/regionalist (take your pick) Lega Nord (LN or Northern League) has suffered badly for its association with, Silvio Berlusconi. Heavy losses in recent local elections have brought the party faithful onto the streets and soured their support for the present Italian coalition government. 

‘Sensing that a sex scandal and three corruption trials, as well as an anaemic economy, had dented Berlusconi’s popularity, the League has distanced itself from the prime minister in recent months on several issues, including the war in Libya. But that was not enough to stop a debacle in the local elections, where the centre-right coalition lost control of the financial capital Milan, Berlusconi’s home town, for the first time in nearly 20 years, as well as a string of other cities.

Many in the League complain that by supporting the billionaire media tycoon and taking up cabinet posts in what most still refer to as “Roma Ladrona” (Rome The Big Thief), the party has lost its identity as a northern-based force defending local interests threatened by the central government.

“The League is becoming a party like all the others, dogged by infighting and more interested in the big jobs in Rome than the concrete problems of its traditional voters – workers and small businesses strangled by high taxes,” said Luca Ricolfi, a sociology professor in Turin and Northern League expert.’

While some believe the NL’s project for the (full) federalisation of Italy has taken a fatal blow others see it more as a temporary hiccup, and that a fracture of the Italian state will eventually happen (perhaps made more likely by Berlusconi’s desperation to stay in power and willingness to shake hands with the devil to do so – though any devil brave enough to shake hands with Berlusconi might want to count their fingers afterwards, just to make sure they’re all there).

‘The Italian government tried everything possible to delay, compromise and negate the possibility of Italian people expressing dissent. It wasted €300m (£265m) preventing a high turnout at the ballot for a referendum on three crucial issues. It even passed a decree in the hope of nullifying one of the referendum’s counts. In addition, itattempted to prevent adequate television coverage of the ballot. Yet the referendum held on 12-13 June succeeded.

And Italians have spoken. They said no to the current government’s most controversial policies. They said no to an undemocratic law that placed the prime minister above the law and prevented him from ever coming to trial. They said no to water privatisation and, again, no to nuclear energy.’

In Spain, post regional and local elections in many parts of the country, various victorious nationalist parties are settling into power in city halls up and down Catalonia and Euskadi (the Basque Country). In the latter in particular the strong showing by Bildu, which the Spanish government and some courts desperately tried to ban in a perversion of democracy as good as anything Berlusconi has produced, astonished many overturning much conventional wisdom amongst pundits and commentators.

Spain is already very much a house divided, and legalistic attempts to reinforce the essential integrity of the Spanish state are being resisted by separatist and regional parties alike. Up to now most eyes were on Catalonia’s muscularly, self-confident nationalism but with a resurgence Basque nationalism now back in the ring that may be all about to change.

And so over to Québec where the electoral meltdown of Bloc Québécois (BQ), the federal party of the Québec nationalists which sits in the Canadian parliament, has spilled over into its regional sister party, the Parti Québécois (PQ), which sits in the provincial parliament of Québec only. Some had hoped the separation of Québec nationalist parties into federal (at a Canada level) and local (at a Québec level) would save the latter from the fate of the former. But rather than wait for an election the PQ decided to save anyone else the trouble and staged an internal meltdown of its own.

Hopeful Canadian nationalists (unionists?) are praying that Québec’s independence movement has been crippled for a generation but others are far less sanguine. While a more moderate Quebecois party might emerge from the turbulent seas of La Belle Province, it’s just as possible that a more determined nationalism might be given a chance by Québec’s canny voters. As things stand the NDP party which rained all over BQ’s parade is not exactly lacking in soft nationalists – of the Québécois variety.