The Belgian Parliament has voted to continue its decades-long practice of supplying free booze to lawmakers, despite several incidents of unpleasant, drunken behavior, because the alternative is going back to having to drag elected officials out of the local bars when it's time to vote.
The parliament's ethics committee, though, suggested that at least some MPs have not been minden der drinken, and that some of them have in fact become "quite unpleasant" as a result. Although the report refers to "incidents" (plural), the only one mentioned is an allegedly racist remark made by one MP to a colleague. Alcohol is a major cause of these incidents, the committee concluded, saying that stricter rules might be necessary. One of their proposals, of course, was to close the open bar, which they speculated might increase the quality of debates.
But parliamentary leaders, at least, decided they didn't like that idea one bit. "We're not getting into the question of alcohol," said current speaker Siegfried Bracke, saying he didn't think the remark mentioned above had anything to do with that. The so-called probleem van alcohol, he said, is actually onbestaande (nonexistent). So, good news for parliamentary drinkers, bad news for local cafés.
[Kevin Underwood/Lowering the Bar]
(Image: Belgium, administrative divisions, Tubs, CC-BY-SA)