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Bitter contest in Belgium

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Bitter contest in Belgium
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Belgians vote on Sunday in what will be a bitterly-contested election.

Opinion polls show that in the lead is the NVA, a Flemish separatist party, which wants to split Belgium into its French and Flemish parts.

If it wins the most votes that would leave the country struggling to form a coalition that can deliver both reform of the state and much needed debt reduction.

On the streets, there was uncertainty and cynicism.

One man told euronews: “Every day I ask God, God give me politicians who I can respect but God isn’t listening to me.”

Another said: “Right now I still haven’t decided, I’m a bit different from everyone else, because I’m Flemish, living in French speaking Brussels and so I’m hesitating.”

The NVA talks of creating a confederation, rather than two separate countries, but some of their supporters are more hard line.

Asked by euronews if he would like to split the country, one man said yes, adding it would be better

Even though voting is compulsory in Belgium, some politicians fear a low turnout.

Political analyst Marc Hooghe from the Leuven Catholic University does not believe that will happen.

He said: “In the Flemish community, lots of people are motivated to go out and vote, because they really want to make the point clear to the outside world, we want more autonomy. I think among the French speaking community, originally people weren’t that motivated, but now I get the impression that they also feel, we have to defend our interests against the Flemish side, so they will go out and vote, I think.”

Belgium’s last ruling coalition collapsed as it could not resolve differences between Dutch and French speaking parties.

Analysts say months of wrangling cannot be excluded this time, but there is now more cause for optimism that a deal on devolving powers to the regions can be reached.