Belgium about to split?
Belgium’s 6.3 million Flemish speakers in the north and its 4 million French-speaking Walloons in the south don’t seem to be able to get along. Its two main regions speak different languages and have different identities.
It’s not only the colloquial language gap that divides Flanders and Wallonia. They don’t speak the same political language either.
In the last general elections in June, parties from the two regions failed to form a coalition. After six months without a government, the King called for an interim one. He hopes its head, former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, can lead the country out of the labyrinth.
The problem is there’s no single party that represents the whole of Belgium. The Flemish parties want more autonomy and regional powers, while the Wallonian parties don’t want their economically weaker region to lose out.
The two sides don’t appear to want to work together. The stalemate has led many to predict that Belgium’s will to split.
Members of the extreme right-wing nationalist party Vlaams Belang are convinced it’s time to kiss Belgium goodbye.
“The political visions in Flanders and Wallonia are different. Wallonia’s more socialist and Flanders is more right wing. There’s no coherence, they’re two different worlds so you have to conclude that Belgium is completely superfluous,” says Bart Laeremans of the Vlaams Belang party.
Meanwhile, others believe in their beloved Belgium.
“It’s existed for a long time. The Flemish and the Walloons have always been friends. There’s never been a war,” says Belgian diplomat Robert Van Der Meulenbroek.
Belgian artist Gerrit Six even put Belgium up for sale but it was not for lack of love. He thinks his country’s priceless.
He thinks the crisis has been exaggerated and it’s all a bit of a farce.
Bidders got to 10 million euros before the ad was shut down, but the experiment showed that there are still some people that think keeping the little country together is worth while.