Throughout the 1990s, corruption cases, policy failure and scandals tarnished Belgium's international reputation. In this article, we analyze the effect of federalism and political culture on corruption and policy failures and their impact on the likelihood of such occurrences becoming scandals. Survey material suggests that there are little differences between French- and Dutch-speakers in the perception and tolerance of corruption. We then list a number of variables that can explain corruption in Belgium and argue that the independent effect of federalism is very limited. Next we demonstrate that federalism has played a much more significant role in lowering the risk of policy failure, while at the same time creating a few new vulnerabilities. Finally, we argue that the regional political elites do not frequently engage in policy learning and frequently put forward federalism as the main solution to the avoidance of policy failure and scandal. In this sense, regional political elites do not seize the opportunity to policy experimentation and transfer that is generally listed as one of the main virtues of operating a federal system of government.