September 18, 2007

CAN'T MAKE ONE STATE OUT OF TWO NATIONS:

A nation divided - Belgium's identity crisis (Bruno Waterfield, 18/09/2007, Daily Telegraph)

At the core of Belgium's crisis is a democratic deficit hardwired into a federal system that institutionalises divisions between Flanders, in the north of the country, and the southern region of Wallonia.

Belgium's 10.5 million citizens vote along ethnic lines, there are no national political figures in the country's 11 parties and there are five parliaments organised on rigid regional and linguistic lines.

While the Flemish make up the majority, with 60 per cent, political power must shared equally with the Walloons. This means that if half the country's 40 per cent of French speakers, only a fifth of the total population, want to block a government coalition they can.

An opinion poll in August about the disintegration of Belgium, underlined the divide with 45 per cent of Flemish people in favour compared with 20 per cent of Walloons against.

The Flemish sense of grievance is compounded by economic divides and a popular feeling that Walloons are unfairly benefiting. Unemployment among French speakers is 20 per cent, compared to eight per cent among Flemings.

Els De Graef echoes the sentiments of many Flemish nationalists when she accuses the Walloons of being "spongers" and "welfare addicts".

"We have had enough of paying for people who are just sucking at the welfare tit. The Flemish have a work ethic, too many Walloons just expect a free ride," said the Brussels housewife.


There are Flems and Walloons. There are no Belgians.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2007 8:21 PM
Comments

Then how do the Swiss, with four languages, and both Catholic and Protestant cantons, make it work?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 18, 2007 10:42 PM

Does King Albert II know that there is no Belgium?

Posted by: FW at September 18, 2007 10:49 PM

Behold how the Flemish ants long to shuck off the burden of the Walloon grashoppers. They feel, rightly, I should say, that the grasshoppers are entitled to their fiddling, as they will, but not entitled to be financed by those who have chosen otherwise.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 19, 2007 4:04 AM

They think themselves Swiss.

Posted by: oj at September 19, 2007 6:25 AM
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