Elton John – Just Like Belgium

This is a 1981 song from Sir Elton, from a mediocre album, The Fox. You probably haven’t heard the song or even know about this record. That’s okay.

Belgium is a small country, about 30,000 square kilometres. Yet it has a federal structure, meaning multiple levels of government.

A typical rationale for federalism is that more than one level of government in a single state works for large countries: it’s more effective to govern with a national level taking care of issues and matters that impact all citizens… and subregional (provinces, states, landers and other names) taking care of more regional matters.

But why federalism for tiny Belgium, then?

Belgium is federal for another reason: ethnic and linguistic diversity. Their setup has regional and linguistic governmental divisions as part of federalism. Belgium has a Dutch-speaking Flemish population, and a French-speaking Walloon population. Plus, German speaking folks.

Another rationale for federalism beyond territorial size is that having more than one level of government in a single country can facilitate ethnic, linguistic and other diversities to be respected, maintained and enhanced.

Elton wasn’t singing about all this, but how many would?


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