- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
It appears that yet another Belgian government has fallen to the world’s most boring interethnic feud:
Belgium King Albert II accepted the government’s resignation Monday after negotiations failed to resolve a long-simmering dispute between Dutch- and French-speaking politicians over a bilingual voting district in and around Brussels, the country’s capital.
The king had waited since last week to see if last-ditch talks could keep the coalition government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme together. But late Monday, it became clear the differences between the linguistic groups were too deep. Elections could now be called in early June.
We’ve had some fun at Belgium’s expense in the past on this blog, but the current flare-up comes at a particularly bad time for Belgium, just two months before the country takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union. This will expose, once again, the ironic fact that an organization dedicated to European unity is headquarted in a country whose own unity is continually under threat from a cultural and linguistic division. Expect Euroskeptics to launch more attacks like the U.K. Independence Party’s Nigel Farage’s bullying put-down of EU President Herman von Rompuy in January.