"Let’s get ready for the break-up of Belgium"

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Three months after elections, Belgium still has no government. Months of negotiations, politicking, horse-trading and more have come to no avail as the latest attempt to form a parliamentary majority has collapsed.

In short, the country is split between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Walloonia. There are spats over linguistics but other fault lines too. For example, a majority of Flemish vote for populist policies and right wingers whilst the Walloon region returns socialist majority.

I’ve covered this subject before, click on the “Out of Competition” tag below. But things have reached a new breaking point with the nominated Vice Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx saying aloud that Belgium could split in two:

Let’s hope it doesn’t happen because in the event of a split, it’ll will be the most vulnerable people who will pay the greatest price. But on the other hand, we can’t ignore that this is, for a large part of the Flemish population, a wish. So yes, we need to prepare for the break-up of Belgium. Otherwise we’ll be unprepared.

So there you have it. Whether this is just scaremongering as a way to concentrate minds, or the abandonment of a long-standing taboo remains to be seen. But seemingly irreconcilable splits remain and it could mark the beginning of the end for an entire nation.

This is part of a series on European life called “out of competition” where I try to show a few things that go beyond bike racing. For more items see the following:

Out of Competition
Part I: another other side to Belgium
Part II: Is Belgium splitting apart?
Part III: The Bike as a Way Out
Part IV: The Walloon Cockerel
Part V: Belgian Government Collapses
Part VI: Young, Gifted and Credit Blacklisted
Part VII: Belgian elections
Part VIII: The summer of Spain
Part IX: Preparing for the break-up of Belgium
Part X: Those flags you see in Italian races

Anonymous September 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

It's somewhat fitting that the Be in Benelux could become Wafl, but let's hope it doesn't come to that. Perhaps they can unite around cycling. No, that QuickStep/Lotto merger is never going to happen.

Anonymous September 9, 2010 at 8:13 am

Well, before the elections they were like a year without government and it worked and these tensions between Flemings and Walloons are nothing new either, that belongs to the status quo.
Some Belgian Comedian in the 20s I think already said " I see Flemings and I see Walloons but Belgians, I don't see."
Also said is that the king and the red devils (their football team) is the only thing keeping Belgium together. Well, the king is pretty unpopular because his Flemish is pretty bad and their football team has been pretty crappy for some time. But they seem to be getting better lately, and maybe the king's successor's Flemish is better, so there is hope after all.

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