Belgium matches Iraq no-government record

17th February 2011, Comments 3 comments

Belgium on Thursday snatched Iraq's dubious record as the country boasting the world's longest political crisis of recent times, an event to be cheekily marked by a "chips revolution" honouring a favourite national dish.

The nation of 11 million people, home to both the European Union and NATO, hit 249 days of political deadlock after an election last June 13 that failed to produce an outright winner.

Already Europe's longest wait for a government -- beating the Netherlands in 1977 at 208 days -- Thursday sees Belgium out-performing Iraq, where Kurds and Shiite and Sunni Muslims struck a political pact late last year after 249 days, which in December, 40 days later, saw a government sworn in.

But a new government for Belgium is not even on the horizon, as politicians from the Dutch-speaking north and the French-speaking south continue to squabble over a coalition government deal.

In hopes of bringing the two sides to a deal, Belgian students have called a host of tongue-in-cheek events to mark the occasion.

After boycotts on sex and shaving, these include free French fries countrywide.

"We've had enough of political games," one of the organisers, Kliment Kostadinov, told AFP. "We must get a government fast and a reform of our institutions that is good for all Belgians."

In Antwerp DJs will be on hand, while Liege stages a flash-mob, Louvain hands out free chips, and Ghent features 249 protesters "dressed down to the bare essentials."

As fears mount of a lasting divorce, figurehead sovereign King Albert II has named a succession of special envoys to bridge the gulf but all efforts have floundered. Current go-between is caretaker finance minister Didier Reynders.

At stake in the political haggling is a deal to reform Belgium's federal system, giving more autonomy to each of its regions, Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia and Brussels, a bilingual region stranded inside Flanders.

© 2011 AFP

3 Comments To This Article

  • nosmo_king posted:

    on 17th February 2011, 13:37:23 - Reply

    It is unfair to describe Flemish and Wallonian politicians as 'squabbling'. They don't squabble, they defend the sectional interests of those from their Regions who voted for them. That is exactly what they should be doing. If Belgians want politicians to defend Belgian wide interests they should evolve and vote for Belgium wide political parties. Instead they've by default constituted a land of two warring tribes who can hardly bring themselves to speak to each other in the same language, making a nonsense of the concept of a 'country', not surprisingly showing itself to be by definition ungovernable.
  • nosmo_king posted:

    on 17th February 2011, 11:18:07 - Reply

    "Belgium. Make it or break it." Preferably the former ie form that government but if that will not and/or cannot be done then, with reluctance, the latter ie make that split, but do one or the other soon before the international currency speculators smell blood.
  • Carlos posted:

    on 17th February 2011, 10:19:34 - Reply

    It’s incorrect to say that we failed to produce an outright winner. Its clear that Bart De Wever (NVA) and Elio Di Rupo are the winners.Problem is that its too painful for the losers to accept the situation. In fact, Albert is the king of 2 countries, Flanders and Wallonie, both are completely different. Not only the language is a problem (Most Flemish speak Dutch and French, most Walloons only speak French and refuse to learn or speak Dutch), we think different, we have another culture.