The Walloon tv programme Place Royale has conducted a new survey in which several Belgians were asked questions about the current monarchy. The survey showed a quarter of the Belgians want to get rid of the monarchy and make Belgium a republic.
After 1500 days of King Philippe, it was time for another survey in which the Belgians were able to comment and show their vision on the monarchy. According to the questionnaire, 63.3 % of the Belgians have confidence in the young King. After 100 days of reigning, the percentage was a lot higher, 73%. The tv programme explained the decline by stating that the Belgians have gotten less confidence in formal institutions in general.
The results also clearly show that the Belgians think that Queen Mathilde does her job better than His Majesty the King. Only 52.2 % of the Belgians are satisfied with the work King Philippe has done in his 1500 days of reigning while Queen Mathilde scores 70.8 % on the same question. Queen Mathilde is more relaxed and is very good at communicating with the people. King Philippe often comes across a little stiffer. These results can also be explained by the fact that the issues Her Majesty works on, are shown more in the media than the activities of the King.
However, the survey is not negative in general. Almost 60% of Belgians still want to keep the monarchy which is not at all a bad score in these times. Also, the majority of Belgians do want the monarchy to become strictly ceremonial. At the moment, the King still has some political power and is still involved in the process of forming governments etc.
Laura Dekkers, Europe Correspondent for Royal Central and a Belgian herself, commented on the findings of the new survey:
I personally feel as if these results should be looked at with a critical view. For this survey, only 1000 people were questioned. More than 11 million inhabitants live in Belgium, so 1000 people can’t be representative of the entire population. Therefore, I don’t think it’s correct to compare the results after 100 days of the reign of King Philippe with those after 1500 days of the reign of the King. If you just ask 1000 different people their opinion, the results could be completely different. I also highly doubt that the survey was carried out according to the correct statistic rules, and if the rules are not followed, you can easily say that those findings are rubbish and absolutely not correct.
For most Belgians, the monarchy is not a big priority. There are many other political themes such as the economy, immigration, pensions, etc. that people care a lot more about. Yes, I do think that most Belgians want the monarchy to become entirely ceremonial so that the King is not able to have some political influence. I believe that in these times of democratisation, it is hard to argue that a King, who is not elected by the people, can have some say in the policy decisions. The largest Belgian political party also argues this. However, it is not really a priority at this point. Maybe it will be in the future, but for now, I don’t think many things are going to change.
In the survey, people were also asked the following question: ‘The Belgian monarchy costs around 35 million euros a year, do you think this is too much or too little?’ If you ask the question in this way, most people will answer too much! Of course, 35 million is a significant amount, but people seem to think that this sum is given as a sort of wage to the King. People seem to forget that many other people are paid with those 35 million: advisors, gardeners, press secretaries, security personnel and more. Only a small amount of the 35 million goes directly to the King and Queen. Also, if you compare the amount to the total budget of the Belgian government, it is only a very small percentage. I think that if you explain to people exactly for what the budget is used and how much it actually is in comparison to the total budget, more people will agree with the amount.