249 days: the length of time Belgium has been without a government has prompted newspapers to proclaim the country world champions of political crises.
Whereas Iraq finally managed to bring together rival factions after months of deadlock, in Brussels there is still no national administration in sight.
Students plan to demonstrate in protest.
“It’s a bit late for people to start taking action, we should have begun long ago… but still it’s good that we’re getting mobilised to bring about change in Belgium,” said one young man.
“I’m sick and tired of it. I’m waiting for it to happen and once there’s a decision I’ll take an interest, but for now: I’m just sick and tired,” said a woman in Brussels.
For two weeks mediator Didier Reynders has been trying to bring together rival French and Dutch-speaking parties, who have failed to agree a coalition since a parliamentary election on June 13th last year.
King Albert has now extended his mandate until March 1st.
Some see the funny side. Inspired by Tunisia’s “jasmine revolution”, Belgian student groups are calling for theirs with fries: a “révolution des frites”.
The difference is that whereas many in Arab countries are trying to overthrow governments, Belgians want to have one.
Recent weeks have seen other tongue-in-cheek protests.
There have been calls for politicians’ partners to refuse to have sex until a deal is reached.
And last month one of the country’s best known actors, Benoit Poelvoorde, urged men to “grow a beard for Belgium” by not shaving until a new government was in place.
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