Row over key Belgium constituency resolved

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Row over key Belgium constituency resolved

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In Belgium, a decades old row over a constituency that includes the capital Brussels appears to have been resolved.

For years, there have been calls for the district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde to be split in two, between the bilingual part within the capital and the mostly Flemish speaking section outside.

The row escalated to such an extent that in 2010, Belgium went without a government for 541 days. But on Friday, MPs finally decided by 106 votes to 42 that the constituency should be separated.

Prime Minister Elio di Rupo hailed the agreement: “Together we bring back confidence to the people and to business. Together we change Belgium and build a more modern state that is closer to its citizens; a Belgium with a more efficient federal state and stronger regions and communities.”

The Flemish extreme right had fought against the split for years and claim that Flemish coalition parties have given too many concessions to the sizeable French speaking population living in Flemish areas, who can now vote either in Halle-Vilvoorde or in Brussels.

Amid the hysteria that almost saw the country break up, there’re been a growing wave of Belgians calling for the political deadlock to be broken and for the nation to unite.