Belgium is celebrating its national day, even though the country may be more divided than ever before. The crisis between Belgium’s Dutch and French-speaking communities has once more brought it to the brink, with a recent poll suggesting almost half of Flemish voters now want a separate state.
King Albert II has appointed a council of three ministers to broker talks on power-sharing,
and urged his people to pull together:
“We must find new ways to live together in our country. I uphold the beliefs of my brother Baudoin, the First, who was totally committed to the fundamental tenets of our society.” he said during a televised address.
The crisis reached a peak last week, when the King refused to accept the Prime Minister’s resignation. Four months after he was appointed, Yves Leterme had handed in his notice after failing to broker a deal on devolving more power to the regions.
But while the politicians argue, today is meant to be about songs and celebration.
It is also about avoiding gaffes like that of Dutch-speaking Leterme who, when asked last year, got the French version of Belgium’s national anthem, La Brabonconne confused with France’s La Marseillaise.