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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Election Fever

On Sunday 25th May, we are having elections in Belgium. We have to chose candidates for the Belgian Federal Parliament, for the European Parliament and for the Flemish Parliament.

Perhaps you'll remember, but the last time we had general elections (in 2010) it took over one year to form a legislation... I wonder if this situation will repeat itself this year.

The big questions that keep people talking are the following:

1) the high umemployment rate
2) the (very) high taxes we pay, also on labor force
3) the things that'll change with the transfer of federal to Flemish government (childcare bonus, bonus for owning your house or flat, pensions, health care, ...)

Some parties (N-VA, Open VLD) would like to exclude the unemployed from receiving unemployment aid after being on the dole for 2 years. After that, they'd have to go to the OCMW (which is something like aid for those in need) where they'd receive a sum that is hardly enough to survive -AND they wouldn't receive anything if they have a house or other property.

Now I've been unemployed at times myself and I know this would not be fair. Not everyone without a job doesn't want to work. But sometimes you just can't find a job. In the 1980's the situation was so bad for teachers I could not find work for a couple of years. And if you are older, who wants you?

Another thing that keep people guessing is what will happen after the transfer of some authorisations to the Flemish government? Now we can bring in some of the expenses concerned with owing a house (the interest on the loan we pay off, the capital we have returned) and they are deducted from our taxes. Will this remain the same, or will it change? Some parties will want to keep everything like it was, but others want to do away with it.

And how will you make labor less expensive? In our country, one laborer costs more than in other countries. If he or she has net wages of say 1,500 Euro, the employer has to pay 3,000 Euro of taxes to the government. If you want to make labor less expensive, you can charge a millionaire tax (the liberals are against that, of course), or you can raise the BTW (or VAT).

So you see, these elections will have a big importance. I can't see in a crystal ball, so I don't know which party will be the greatest. N-VA hopes to be, but will they win? Imo they have lost a lot of their impact already and they haven't made themselves popular in the news lately.

We'll have to be patient...


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