Belgium: Calls for a Breakup Grow Louder

via midnight sun

Fred Guerdin/Reporters

Filip Dewinter, the leader of the extreme-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang, held a cake Tuesday celebrating Belgium’s 100th day without a government after the last general election.

Published: September 21, 2007

BRUSSELS, Sept. 16 — Belgium has given the world Audrey Hepburn, RenĂ© Magritte, the saxophone and deep-fried potato slices that somehow are called French.

But the back story of this flat, Maryland-size country of 10.4 million is of a bad marriage writ large — two nationalities living together that cannot stand each other. Now, more than three months after a general election, Belgium has failed to create a government, producing a crisis so profound that it has led to a flood of warnings, predictions, even promises that the country is about to disappear.

“We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer,” said Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Bloc, the extreme-right, xenophobic Flemish party, in an interview. “It’s ‘bye-bye, Belgium’ time.” ...