The Belgian waffle - Asian Opinion

The Belgian waffle - Asian Opinion
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo of the Francophone Socialist party casts his vote for the European Parliament and Belgium's general elections in Mons.

Belgium - Last time around it took Belgium's politicians 589 days to agree on a coalition government, so this year's drawn out battle isn't that worrying yet.

Looks like that time has come around again. Belgians went to the polls (on May 25) and returned pretty much a similar set of results to the elections of June 2010.

Back then, it took a whopping 589 days before Elio Di Rupo finally cobbled together enough support to form a six-party coalition government.

The bow-tie wearing, openly homosexual leader of the French-speaking Socialist Party actually saw his party finish in second place but had more overall support than the leading Flemish separatists.

Di Rupo's coalition was formed between French-speaking socialists, liberals and Christian Democrats, and Flemish-speaking socialists, liberals and Christian Democrats because each major party is split along linguistic lines.

Now aside, from Malaysia, Belgium is the country I have spent the most time living in, between November 1983 and February 1988.

It is a lovely place to live in and I can never quite fathom why its schizophrenic nature has been allowed to develop and flourish.

Superficially, the northern half of Belgium, Flanders, speaks Flemish which is quite close to the language spoken by northern neighbour Holland, while the southern half, Wallonia, speaks French.

This situation has existed since 1830, yet has never really been resolved.

In fact, it got so bad that during the impasse following the last election, talk of a national split got really serious, with some separatist parties even holding talks with Holland and France.

Somewhat ironically, Belgium's capital Brussels has long been at the heart of efforts to push for a united Europe!

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