A Country With No Government

Trip Start Jul 03, 2011
Trip End Jan 17, 2012

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Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Belgium is split into two regions: French-speaking Wallonia and Flemish-speaking Flanders.  It is my understanding that French speakers have a hard time with the Flemish language, and Flemish speakers are resentful of having to learn French in school instead of English.  Aside from language differences, Walonia tends to be poorer than Flanders, so money ends up being sent from the North to the South.  These differences have caused a great chasm in Belgium, if not with the people, at least amongst political factions.  Part of the population wants to split into two different countries; the other part thinks that's ridiculous and vows to stay together.  The main issue is, of course, Brussels.  Flanders wants to claim it, yet it is a mainly French-speaking city.  It is too important for either side to give up.  Another question of splitting up a nation is their national debt-- who pays it?  Does one side owe more than the other?  It's like splitting a complicated bill at a fancy restaurant with someone you know has ordered a more expensive dish than you.

This split has literally divided the country, so much so that they can not decide on a compromise that satisfies everyone's needs.  Thus, Belgium currently has no government.  They haven't had a government for 16 long months, and they are actually listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the country to continue with no government for the longest amount of time.  People actually celebrated surpassing Iraq's standing to win this title.  

As an outsider, everything still seems to be functional.  Things haven't fallen apart as one might expect.  It leads me to wonder, do people actually even need a government to have a country?  In Belgium's case, apparently not.
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Marcus Ampe on

Are we not lucky we could safe a lot of money by not having a proper government? It is really a bad joke and an insult to us voters, of which they do not take anything in account. Our votes seems to be worthless because even a party who has gained the most votes is put at the site. Were is the democracy in Belgium?

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