Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Belgium - Civil Unrest?

London, UK

Could Belgium split in to two separate states? Read this article

This current news story from the on-line Daily Telegraph may have worsened matters between the Walloons and the Flemish.

Miss Belgium drawn into language feud

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

Belgium's newly crowned beauty queen has been drawn into the bitter political feud that has left Brussels without a government for six months after it emerged that she cannot speak the language used by half of the country.

Alizée Poulicek, a 20-year-old language student, was booed by the audience when she failed to respond to questions in Dutch before being crowned Miss Belgium at the weekend in Antwerp, in Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north of Belgium.

Miss Poulicek may be multilingual in French, English and Czech but political correctness demands she also speaks Dutch, the language spoken by Belgium's Flemish majority, whose demands for more autonomy are behind a political crisis that has lasted almost 200 days.

"I was shocked, it was not fair play," the beauty queen, the daughter of a Czech father and a Belgian mother, told the French-language newspaper La Dernière Heure. "In the wings, I told myself it was lost for me because of that but everyone encouraged me and told me it was not important."

The Flemish, comprising six million of Belgium's 10.4 million citizens, are increasingly demanding that public figures are tweetalig, or bilingual in Dutch and French.

The row illustrates the deep divisions in a country where tension between the Dutch-speaking Flemish and francophone Walloons has prevented the formation of a government since national elections on June 10. In a bid to end the crisis, Belgium's King Albert II has asked the caretaker prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, to form an interim government.


Ross said...

I've never really understood the point of Belgium, it's hard to see how Flanders and Walloonia have more in common with one another than with the Dutch and the French respectively. Still if they are happy with it who am I to object?

Ellee Seymour said...

Well we have an Italian football team manager who can't speak English, what difference does it make?

Jeremy Jacobs said...


I've never understood the creation of Jordan.


This goes much deeper

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That's a bit more complicated. The Fems are not exactly in love with Holland and the Walloons respectively with France. Of course, mutual friction does not add to this soup...

Eurodog said...

There is no such thing as a Dutch-speaking Flemish person. A Flemish person speaks Flemish and not Dutch although they are the same language. Easy?
Belgium is a sovereign state and I would hate my country to be divided.
As a Flemish Belgian, I speak Flemish and am at home in the Flemish culture. As a French speaking Flemish Belgian, I speak French and am at home in the French culture. I live in Brussels so I use both languages depending on whom I address. I am married to a Brit so I speak English and feel at home in the Anglo-Saxon culture.
So you see, Belgian politics are extremely complex.
Life goes on here with an emergency governement. We continue to eat and drink and to speak to our fellow Belgians in whatever language is appropriate.