The news of the freeing of the King of, the Belgians and his wife and family will bring to a head the vexed question of the future of King Leopold. Belgian feeling is sharply divided about whether the reign should continue or whether the King should abdicate in favour of his son,• Prince Baudouin, with the maintenance of the Regency of Prince Charles. Leopold's brother.
The Socialists are said to be united in favour of the secondfacourse. on the ostensible ground that King Leopold would be a " one-party " King. The Socialist paper Le People writes: " When we express a wish th'at the monarchy ought not td be compromised through their fault, we arc not forgetting the Republican principles still inscribed in our programme. We simply obey the civic obligation which command us to safeguard, above all at the present moment, the country's moral unity and avoid adding a crisis on the regime to the dissensions threatening us." The majority of Liberals share the Socialist view, though no party decision has been arrived at, and naturally the Communists. too.
The Catholics are strongly in favour of the normal constitutional continuation of the interrupted reign.
,The Brussels Quotidien (Christian 15emocrats) says: " Public opinion wants the King in spite of certain politicians." M. Van Acker has received Count Henry Carton Dc Wiart, leader of the Catholic Party in the Chamber of Representatives, and Baron Moyersoen, leader of the Catholics in the Senate, who stated that according to the text of the Constitution ' it was clear that when King Leopold was released he would automatically assume the Royal function.
The Catholic leaders, who spoke on behalf of their Party, declared. "The Constitution should be applied," and warned M. Van Acker that there would be difficulties if it was not."
A BELGIAN CATHOLIC VIEW
Discussing the question with a prominent Belgian Catholic figure, just returned from Belgium on a brief visit to this country, a CATHOLIC HERALD reporter was told that if King Leopold has to appear before Parliament to explain his attitude during the war he was not likely to have as sympathetic a hearing as if he could have appealed tia-a Parliament more representative of the people at the present time. This observer swat of the opinion that Belgium was suffering from having the old and to some extent discredited leaders, and this applied particularly to the Catholic Party, which was steadily losing ground.
Since the Catholics form the real support of the King, the latter's claims may suffer from the weakness of the Party leadership and record.
In October, 1944, Delfosse, Propaganda Minister in the exiled administration, and Gregoire, Chief of the Resistance Movement, tried to organise a new party, to be called the Union Democratique Beige. This would have co-ordinated the democratic forces, &pecially those who had the confidence of the younger people, and though it would not have been a Catholic party, the backing that would have been given by democratic Catholics would have made its influence felt. Thus the King would have found supporters among the members of the new and vital party, instead of having been forced. as at present, to find them in a weakened section of the out-of-date party framework. In other words, the present Belgian line-up is unreal and artificial, and the King finds himself the victim of this unrepresentative position.