150 days without a government – that is the record Belgium will mark this week, as a political deadlock drags on after elections back in June. So far talks on a possible coalition between the Christian Democrats and Liberals have come to nothing. The previous record for number of days without a government was 148 back in 1988. Language and voting rights are the sticking points, in a country where parties are divided along linguistic lines.
Belgium has a federal system with three regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia and the capital Brussels, officially recognised as bilingual. Brussels is a hot-spot: if there is no progress in the talks, Flemish politicians are threatening to vote to break up what’s known as the BHV electoral district in the capital.
Observers say if no deal for a government is struck it is possible a so-called grand coalition of all parties might be considered. For now, few seem keen on the idea of a fresh election.