The political situation in Belgium is close to critical. On October 17 it became known that the largest party of the French-speaking part of the country, the Socialist Party, has refused to come into coalition with nationalists from the New Flemish Alliance which won the election in Flanders. Belgium, the current chairing state of the European Union, has been living without the government since June, and it seems that there is no end to the political crisis.
The relations between the two peoples of the country - the French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish (kindred to the Dutch) - have never been peaceful. The ties between the two parts of the nation have aggravated considerably during the recent years, which raised the subject of the separation of Belgium. One of Belgium's French-speaking channels broadcast a report at the end of 2006 claiming that Flanders had supposedly declared independence. Nearly 89 percent of TV viewers believed the prank report.
In 2007, there was nothing to laugh about. Christian Democrats with sitting acting prime minister of Belgium Ives Leterme won the elections in Flanders. The politician did not support the separation of the country, but said that the Flemish and the Walloons had only three things in common: the king, beer and football. The main objective of his program was to win additional powers for Flanders in the field of economy. It is worthy of note that separatists won up to one-third of all votes.
According to the Constitution of Belgium, the government of the country must consist of spokespeople for both Flemish and Walloon parties. The Walloons did not want to form a coalition with those who sought lesser powers for the center and more powers for separate regions. Unlike the Flemish, the Walloons always supported the maximum centralization of power in the country.
There was no way out of the crisis: the Walloons had to cooperate with moderate separatist Yves Leterme. The discrepancies between the ministers of the two communities would often lead to significant changes in the government. As a result, King Albert II set the date of the early election for the summer of 2010. The results of the vote proved to be horrendous from the point of view of preserving unity of the nation.
In Flanders, 45 percent of votes were won by the parties who openly support the separation of Belgium. The New Flemish Alliance chaired by notorious politician Bart de Wever won the elections.
The French-speaking politicians did not want to deal with Wever and nominated Elio de Rupo, the leader of Wallonia socialists, for the position of the prime minister. The trick did not work: the Flemish did not agree to deliver the authorities of the prime minister onto the Walloons. The King had to offer Wever to form the new cabinet of ministers, where he failed to succeed.
On October 4th, de Wever offered to keep nearly 50 percent of income tax (related to natural persons) in separate regions. The Walloons rejected the idea claiming that the regions must keep only 10 percent sending the rest to the center. If the new rules had been approved, Flanders, being a more prosperous constituent of Belgium, would have gained a considerable financial advantage of millions and million of euros over the Walloons.
The political crisis in the country is in full swing. Yves Leterme still serves as the prime minister, although he stepped down a long time ago already. Leterme, being virtually the head of the Belgian government, is in charge of the European Union. It is not ruled out that the country will soon have another parliamentary vote.
Flemish Christian Democrat Eric Van Rompuy said in the beginning of October: "Belgium is in a coma. The patient is clinically dead."
Sergey Fyodorov, a scientist with the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that the discrepancies between the Walloons and the Flemish parts of Belgium had gone too far.
"The relations between the Walloons and the Flemish have been intense during 180 years of Belgium's existence. Today, they have gone too far. It is too hard now to restrain the Flemish separatist sentiments. The Flemish accuse the poorer Walloons of stealing their income. It is a universal tradition for many peoples to blame others for their own trouble. The Flemish are not an exception at this point, although one has to acknowledge that the living standard in Wallonia is lower than that in Flanders.
"One should bear in mind the fact that the headquarters of the European Union and NATO are located in Belgium. Spokespeople for these two organizations, especially the EU, will do everything possible to find a solution that would be acceptable both for the Walloons and for the Flemish. The international role of Brussels is a positive factor for the two national categories - this is something that unites Belgium.
"It is not ruled out, though, that Wallonia and Flanders will become independent territories. Brussels will have to be divided in this case, but it will obviously not be the reason for another Berlin Wall to appear," the scientist said.