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Verhofstadt survives crucialBHV vote of confidence

Published on 13/05/2005

13 May 2005

BRUSSELS – The Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, on Friday won a parliamentary vote of confidence in his government in a move that he hopes will draw a line under a damaging row between francophone speaking and Dutch speaking politicians, at least for now.

Verhofstadt called the vote after bickering over whether or not the Brussels electoral district of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde (BHV) should remain officially bi-lingual or should become part of Flanders appeared to threaten his administration’s survival.

His gamble paid off when 97 parliamentarians voted to support his government against 50 who voted against it.

It had been hoped that after months of bickering the BHV question could have been decided once and for all this month.

But earlier this week Verhofstadt announced he intended to put the issue on hold until at least 2007.

Even most Belgians seem to find the BHV dispute incomprehensible.

Flemish parties say that French-speakers in the district should not have the right to vote for French-speaking candidates in legislative and European elections.

The French-speaking parties are willing to accept, but on the condition that the special bilingual region of Brussels be extended into some of the surrounding Flemish-speaking areas.

The Flemish parties reject this proposal outright.

Around 60 percent Belgians speak Dutch and 40 percent speak French.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news