After all, it seems it’s perfectly possible to get along without one, or at least without one that’s doing much.
Belgium finally has a new Prime Minister – after a record-breaking 541 days without a government.
It saw the nation claim the title of being without a government for the longest period – but despite the political chaos, services were carried out as usual and many Belgians did not notice much difference to their daily lives.
Now this isn’t quite accurate. Firstly it it pointed out towards the end of the article that Belgium has had a caretaker government in place all this time, but of course the purpose of caretaker governments is to do nothing except keep things ticking over and make no changes unless absolutely necessary, and in fact the interim Prime Minister leading the caretaker government has been the one who resigned more than a year and a half ago. Secondly it’s only the federal government that Belgium has been doing without for the last 541 days, and if the Belgian people noticed little or no difference to their lives that might be because the regional, community and provincial governments were still going and they’re more relevant – a point which should be noted by all fans of localism.
All of which brings me to this question: for those of use living in federations such as Australia or the US, or quasi federations where bits have their own parliament like the UK, or even wannabe federations like the EU, how much do we really need from a federal government? The Belgian experience would tend to suggest that the answer is not a great deal.