Bye bye Belgium?

Bye bye Belgium? – Opinion – International Herald Tribune

Belgium is now organized entirely along language lines. There is no political party, newspaper, radio or television station that operates in both Flanders and Wallonia. Residential and workplace segregation is pervasive.

The terms of the debate over demands for Flemish independence were crystallized by a “Manifesto for an Independent Flanders Within Europe” issued at the end of 2005. Neither shrill nor highly rhetorical, it was not the product of the Vlaams Belang, a xenophobic extreme right-wing Flemish nationalist party that has long called for Flemish independence, but of 65 members of the Flemish business and academic establishment.

The manifesto argues that Flanders and Wallonia have divergent needs and goals because of profound political, economic, social and cultural differences. It claims the present federal structure, with antimajoritarian restrictions, leads to bad compromises at the national level and “exorbitant and inefficient” financial transfers from Flanders to Wallonia and Brussels.

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