Does it really matter if Belgium is a monarchy or a republic?

Having been indoctrinated by French education from my youngest age, I have always been in favour of republics rather than monarchies. Last week young socialists explained that they were of abolishing the monarchy in Belgium through reform. This is a delicate issue for most the handful of monarchies left in Europe: for Spain, the UK and Belgium the monarchy is inseparable from the country as it is. With no monarchy, what would keep these amalgams of different regions together?

Belgium Royal Family
Belgian Royal Family

It seems that still today we are struggling to provide a healthy substitute for the murderous nationalisms that have been fabricated since the 19th century and that have led to the deaths of millions of people. While the European project has since managed to maintain the continent’s most lasting peace, the Nation as a unit cannot seem to be replaced and the nationalist fire seems to be burning brightly as the high scores of far right parties across Europe show.

Until we are able to surpass these nationalisms however, at the end of the day, monarchy or republic do not seem to make much of a difference. Some might say that monarchies are relics of the past giving a handful of people millions of Euros in subsidies, effectively putting them above the law and fulfilling obsolete roles. This is of course accurate.

The Paradise Papers investigation have shown the Queen of England is no different than self made millionaires like Bono or Madonna or politicians. All use their status, wealth and power to avoid paying taxes. The rich and powerful, from royal, business or pop dynasties can get around the rules designed for everyone else. In fact some of these manoeuvres are actually legal.

This reminds me of a saying which you have probably heard under one form or another: steal 1000 euros and you will be arrested, steal millions and you will walk free. Being a Republic or a Monarchy seems to matter little in this sense. In fact some of the continent’s most prosperous and egalitarian countries are monarchies (Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden).

At the end of the day, if this is an important question for citizens it should be answered. But the priority needs to be the reform a global system of tax evasion in front of which nations and international organisations seem powerless. 10 years of financial leaks have had little consequence. Journalists that investigate the corruption of the planet’s riches run the risk of being murdered.

I fully support young politicians wanting to move their country towards being fairer, more transparent and riding themselves of antique social structures that provide little more than circus to the people through Paris Match photo ops. But let them not loose sight of the real privilege that does not distinguish between red and blue blood.