Belgium. The new coalition government, led by the Christian Democrat and former President Herman Van Rompuy, was formally approved in a vote of confidence in early January. The government consisted of the same parties as the one that collapsed in December 2008 due to a scandal surrounding the sale of the crisis-hit financial group Fortis.
Regional elections were held at the same time as the EU elections in June. The French-speaking Social Democratic Party PS lost its position as the largest party in Brussels, where the French-speaking liberal MR became the largest. The Social Democrats also lost ground in Wallonia, but remained the largest in the region. There was concern that the party’s weakened position would upset the fragile five-party coalition at the federal level, which included it. According to countryaah, the Ecolo environmental party performed strongly in both Brussels and Wallonia. In Flanders, right-wing Vlaams Belang lost just over a third of its support, while the two more moderate nationalist parties New Flemish Alliance (NV-A) and Lista Dedecker instead went strong.
In November, Van Rompuy was named the EU’s first permanent chairman. In his place, party mate Yves Leterme returned as head of government, despite being forced to resign a year earlier because of allegations of undue involvement in the reorganization of the Fortis financial group.
Belgium – Brussels
Brussels, French Brussels, Netherlands Brussels, capital and administrative region of Belgium; 176,500 residents (2017), in the region and metropolitan area live 1. 2 million. Brussels, located on Schelde’s tributary Senne, is a bilingual island (French and Dutch) in the Flemish language area. The majority of the population has French as their mother tongue and is predominantly Catholic. The percentage of foreign nationals is 25 percent. Brussels was the European Capital of Culture in 2000.
At the heart of Brussels lies the stately Grand’Place square with city hall and tower building (1402–49), which is surrounded by richly decorated guild and patrician palaces from the late 1600s. The square and the town hall are declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city’s violent history has been centered on the Grand’Place from the public executions of the religious fights to the 1830 revolution that freed Belgium from Dutch supremacy. The city’s Gothic cathedral Saint Michel was founded in the beginning of the 13th century but got west facade and tower first in the 16th century.
Among Brussels’s monumental 18th and 19th century buildings are the Royal Palace (1773-80) and the Palace of Justice (1866-83) by Joseph Poelaert. The tourist symbol Manneken Pis, the statue of the kissing boy, is found a few hundred meters away, as is the remarkable glass-covered gallery Saint-Hubert (Cluysenaar 1837-47), whose main parties are called Galerie du Roi and Galerie de la Reine.
Brussels is mainly characterized by its rich diversity of Art Nouveau architecture, or art nouveau and from 1930 art deco, developed by the turn of the century aesthetic pioneers, such as Henry van de Velde in design and architect Victor Horta in architecture. Hortas Hôtel Tassel (1893–95), with its free floor plan and neat cast iron structures, together with the Palais des Beaux-Arts (1922-28) are among the milestones of modern architecture. Other prominent representatives of the turn-of-the-century Brussels school are notably Paul Hankar, Antoine Pompe, Francis Strauven and P. Teenaerts. In Brussels, one of Vienna Hoffmann’s foremost works, the so-called Palais Stoclet (1905), was erected. In 2009, this was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Among the most internationally recognized Belgian architects today are André Jacqmain and Charles Vandenhove. The latter collaborated during a period with Lucien Kroll, whose distinguished development at the medical faculty of Woluwé-Saint-Lambert on the outskirts of Brussels, called la Mémé (1970-77), became an important experience in the development of a radical European architecture movement that worked for far-reaching user participation. The new satellite and university city of Louvain-la-Neuve is an example of innovative urban building projects originating in the same period. During the post-war period, the city center of Brussels has been subjected to brutal and conflict-filled total remediation. touched on the centrally located les Marolles neighborhood.
Like Paris, Brussels underwent extensive city planning regulations in the mid-19th century, with a number of boulevards being pulled through the medieval area and the Senne River with all its branches covered. The nearest pentagonal city center, which is located low (in the river valley), is dominated by shops and offices, while the higher parts of the east are characterized by public splendor buildings and a monumentally laid out street network. The surrounding 18 municipalities have gradually been transformed from agricultural villages to integrated districts since the mid-19th century. The largest of the crowd are Anderlecht and Schaerbeek.
A large part of Brussels’s industries and port facilities have been located in the north-south direction channels. The most important industrial branches of today are, in addition to the food and textile industries, the metal industry and the petrochemical, electrical-electronic and graphic industries. Traditional manufacturing has become a source of light and technologically more advanced industries.
Several multinational companies have established themselves in Brussels. The city is the center of Belgium’s economic and political life with corporate offices, banks, insurance companies and public institutions and, after the Second World War, has come to play an increasingly important international role. Brussels is an important hub for both the Belgian and European communications networks. The city has three major railway stations and the international airport Zaventem. The canal system links Brussels with Schelde in the north and the mining district in the south.
Among the most important cultural institutions are Belgium’s national library and national archives, art museums and some 30 theaters. In Brussels there is also the Royal Academy of Science, Literature and the Arts (founded in 1772), the University (founded in 1834), the Technical College, the College of Art and the Conservatory of Music. The EU and NATO headquarters mark Brussels’ role as an international center.