Saturday, December 1, 2007

Belgium's survival in question as 'next PM' quits the battle

In March this year I visited Belgium, Brussels specifically, and had an interesting experience. Besides Brussels being a fabulous city, capital city of the European Union, the very first person I talked with was the taxi driver taking me from the airport to my hotel. While that might seem an unimportant detail, that taxi driver immediately launched into telling me about two things. First it was the superiority of Belgium beer (German beer is too watery), and the 4000 year history of the Walloon's and how Belgium is really two countries joined together as one. Belgium is split nearly equally between the Walloons of the south, who are french speaking, derived from the Celtic culture, etc, and the Flemish of the north who speak Dutch. Brussels is a kind of middle ground where the two cultures mix freely.

It seems that in June the people of Belgium voted in Yves Leterme, the Flemish Christian Democrat leader to be the leader of the Belgium government. However he hasn't been able to get the government together into a functioning operation, and he went to the King of Belgium, King Albert, and told him he had had enough, and Leterme has resigned.

The Guardian article goes on to describe how Belgium appears to be headed to splitting into two countries. While they share a country they are behaving as two. They watch different TV stations, they go to different schools, there are no national political parties, and so on.

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