A Change Of Religious Spirit
From Our Belgian Correspondent After a series of difficult negotiations and eighteen days of crisis, the second Van Zeeland cabinet has been formed under pressure of aggravating industrial troubles and through the personal insistence of the king, whose concern it is to save the public weal.
The new government will be supported rather through a sense of duty than through any popularity as far as many circles are concerned. The last elections, indeed, made it clear that three-party governments are not popular.
Van Zeeland in the meritorious desire to obtain a national union has been too generous to the non-Catholic parties. He should have remembered that together with the followers of "Rex" and the Flemish nationalists, the Catholics probably constitute a majority of the nation, and had therefore a right to a good representation in the cabinet. They have only four offices--and unimportant ones—while the plums have gone to the socialists and the liberals. The latter, though a dying party with their out-dated anti-clericalism and holding no more than the same number of seats as the Rexists, have got such good offices as justice, education, transport and national defence.
The Belgian ministry, despite the very
great sympathy there is for Van Zeeland, is unpopular, and many in their heart of hearts are hoping that Rexism will sweep the board.
If the socialists felt themselves unable to govern the country they could have handed on the duty to others, and if they are trying to make difficulties it must not be forgotten that Belgium has a king, intelligent, talented and extremely popular, whom the country would follow immediately and as far as he wanted to go.
Meanwhile Van Zeeland has been doing all he can in the economic field : raising salaries, having holidays paid for and making pensions obligatory.
. Blind Discipline
Let us hope that his energy and adaptability will save Belgium. It is true that the religious mentality in the country has changed. The Catholic spirit has kicked against the blind kind of discipline that was imposed on it. Mistakes have been made and men in high position have lost some of their prestige. The "Rex" movement has widened the horizon, and people are heard to say that since priests have been forbidden to take an active part in it they may as well stay in their sacristies! The outlook is dark.