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What does it take to form a government?
Belgians are not sure, but a lighthearted mood prevailed Thursday as Belgium overtook Iraq’s record in trying to form a government: 249 days and counting.
To mark the occasion, 249 people planned to strip naked in Ghent (though apparently only about 50 people got down to their underwear), while students in Leuven tucked into free frites and downed beer — Belgian, of course.
After general elections last June 13…the political deadlock has increased fears that Belgium, made up of French speakers in the south and Dutch speakers in the north, may actually split apart.
Forming a government has proved so difficult because Flemish nationalists want a new constitutional settlement to give regions more power over issues like the economy. In Flanders, the more prosperous part of the country, many voters hope to limit transfers of cash to subsidize Wallonia.
Historically, French language and culture have dominated Belgium and Dutch speakers once suffered discrimination, a fact that overshadows relations between the country’s two main groups…
Analysts believe that new elections are coming and that the issue of dividing Belgium will move up the agenda.
Jean Faniel, a political scientist in Brussels, said that, despite the crisis, it was important to Belgians to keep their sense of humor. The stripping, beard-growing and beer-drinking protests bore a distinctive Belgian character, he said. “Here we have an acute sense of self-mockery.”
You might be a redneck…?