Belgium’s parliamentary Grand Chamber becomes the centre of a battle today, which threatens to split the country’s two linguistic groups. The man who emerged from the June election as Prime Minister designate, the Flemish Yves Leterme, has failed to form a coalition with his Francophone counterparts. So to force their wish for greater Flemish autonomy, the powerful Dutch-speaking representatives could decide to split the Brussels electoral district.
The socialist federal deputy, Thierry Giet said: “For Francophones that would feel like a kind of declaration of war – one of our communities against another.”
The latest battleground includes the electoral district of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde which is predominantly French-speaking.
If it is split-up in today’s vote, around 120,000 Francophones would find themselves stranded without Francophone candidates to choose from in parliamentary elections. Belgium has been without a federal government for a record five months as the political top brass try – and fail – to find enough common ground for a coalition.
Senior Francophone politicians warn that splitting the Brussels region could torpedo those talks for good.