Belgium Unity ‘Close to the Abyss’
Posted on Jun 13, 2010
Electoral victories for Dutch-speaking separatists in Belgium have further shaken the fragile unity of the European country. Nationalist movements there continue to gain momentum, and this, analysts say, has pushed Belgium “close to the abyss” of permanent national division.
“Belgians are at a crossroads where they are making a choice on whether they want to live together or not,” a professor of politics said as politicians openly discuss the possibility of independent states for Flemish separatists. —JCL
The New York Times:
The move to break up Belgium gathered momentum Sunday as separatists won an emphatic election victory in Flanders, the prosperous Dutch-speaking half of the fiercely divided nation.
A stunning electoral success for Bart de Wever’s Flemish nationalist party marks a significant new challenge to the fragile unity of a country where tensions between French and Dutch speakers run deep.
Scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in less than three weeks, Belgium will now do so with a caretaker administration and facing months of tortuous negotiations to put together a coalition government.
“We are close to the abyss,” said Lieven De Winter, professor of politics at the Université Catholique de Louvain, who described Mr. De Wever’s win as a landslide. “Whether we are five meters or five centimeters away is difficult to say. But Belgians are at a crossroads where they are making a choice on whether they want to live together or not.”
Flickr / murayi_habimana
Bart de Wever, president of the separatist Flemish nationalist party, enjoyed electoral victories Sunday that political scientists believe threaten the unity of Belgium.