Belgium’s long national nightmare is sort of over

MARK RENDERS/Getty Images News Raise a glass of Stella for Belgium. It seems the linguistically divided country will live to fight another day. After six months of deadlock, Belgian leaders have finally put together an interim government under the leadership of Dutch-speaking, Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. In three months, he plans to hand over ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
597458_071219_belgium_05.jpg
597458_071219_belgium_05.jpg

MARK RENDERS/Getty Images News

Raise a glass of Stella for Belgium. It seems the linguistically divided country will live to fight another day. After six months of deadlock, Belgian leaders have finally put together an interim government under the leadership of Dutch-speaking, Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. In three months, he plans to hand over power to the Christian Democrats, who actually won the last election. Of course, the interregional dispute that led to the crisis remains essentially unresolved:

Today, almost everything — from cable companies, broadcasting and health insurance to political parties, pigeon racing clubs and the Red Cross — is split into Dutch- and French-speaking camps. [...] The drive for more self rule continues unabated in Flanders where many grouse their wealthier, service-based economy subsidizes Wallonia. Dutch-speakers view its dilapidated cities and 14 percent unemployment rate — double the Flemish rate — as the legacy of ruinous socialist rule that is so at odds with the mood of reform-minded Flanders.

MARK RENDERS/Getty Images News

Raise a glass of Stella for Belgium. It seems the linguistically divided country will live to fight another day. After six months of deadlock, Belgian leaders have finally put together an interim government under the leadership of Dutch-speaking, Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. In three months, he plans to hand over power to the Christian Democrats, who actually won the last election. Of course, the interregional dispute that led to the crisis remains essentially unresolved:

Today, almost everything — from cable companies, broadcasting and health insurance to political parties, pigeon racing clubs and the Red Cross — is split into Dutch- and French-speaking camps. […] The drive for more self rule continues unabated in Flanders where many grouse their wealthier, service-based economy subsidizes Wallonia. Dutch-speakers view its dilapidated cities and 14 percent unemployment rate — double the Flemish rate — as the legacy of ruinous socialist rule that is so at odds with the mood of reform-minded Flanders.

But politicians in poorer Wallonia accuse Flemish politicians of trying to wrest social security from the hands of the federal government which, they say, would mean the end of Belgium as a federal nation.

Which is to say: In three months this could all be starting again.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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