Thursday, July 17, 2008

Imagine a world without Belgium

Deutche Welle reports on the breakdown of the the five-party coalition government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme. Late Monday night the king instructed the government not to resign and called for a period of deliberation while he consulted with French and Flemish leaders.

Here's the crux of the problem:

Both sides are struggling to increase their influence in the country, with the Flemish -- representing some 60 percent of Belgium's 10.5 million people -- demanding increased responsibilities for their territories. In particular the reorganization of the multilingual constituency of the Brussels region was under dispute.

Flanders, Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern half, craves more regional powers to reflect its prosperity. It also resents subsidizing the less affluent, French-speaking Wallonia region to its south.

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