Thursday, November 15, 2007

Belgium Held Hostage: Day 158

On June 10, 2007, the people of Belgium voted. After the votes were tallied, Belgians probably expected the politicians to, you know, form a government. Sometime soon. As in, before 2008.

Belgium is on its 158th day without a government. Why, well it's...complicated. Or if you prefer this in Belgian: compliqué/ingewikkeld.

Most of Belgium speaks Flemish Dutch, about a third of the country speaks French (a fraction speaks German, but they don't count). And never the twain do meet. No political party runs in both linguistic communities -- it's one or the other. So a man or woman can end up hugely famous in Flanders and be completely unknown in French-speaking Wallonia. Which makes it kind of awkward if you're that guy -- Yves Leterme -- and you want to be Prime Minister, and half of your putative government has barely heard of you. Throw in ignorance of your own country's national anthem in its secondary language, and you have yourself no government.

Meanwhile, the French and Dutch linguistic regions merrily continue to set their own budgets, run their own schools (free of the hillbilly attempts at federal interference we have here) and conduct their own foreign policies. That's right -- parts of Belgium can have different foreign policies. And above all that the European Union runs other things.

Maybe they don't need a Prime Minister, which is good -- they don't have one.

On the other hand, they do have excellent French Fries.
Mayonnaise required.

No comments: