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Belgians queasy over coalition money tensions

Belgians queasy over coalition money tensions
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The collapse in Belgium of talks to form a coalition government has further stoked ill-feeling there. It is largely over Flemish resentment surrounding financial assistance for the poorer French-speaking Walloon half of the country.

euronews sounded people out in the southern Belgian city of Wavre.

One woman said: “I felt sick to my stomach when I heard. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to go along with it.”

Somewhat less bothered, a male Wavrian said: “I’m originally from Brussels, so I’m a bit worried about what’s to become of Brussels, I don’t really care about the rest.”

The Flemish separatist party which won the most seats in the June election wants Belgium reformed to make all regions financially responsible.

Here was one opinion about that from a man in Wavre: “Can we get by without Flemish money? Wherever it comes from, whether it’s Walloon, English or Dutch money, I think we can get by. It’s all the same euro.”

This woman said: “Separation, if it brings back economic stability and the Walloons give themselves a kick in the arse and become real workers and want to succeed, would be great!”

In spite of gloomy talk, opinion polls show that most Belgians do not want to split up the country, but many want change.

Liesbeth Van Impe, who writes for a Dutch-language Flemish newspaper, told euronews: “It’s all about money. If the French-speaking politicians in their own region have policies that are not successful in terms of employment, the Flemish politicians want them to be fiscally and financially punished, and that’s obviously an idea that scares the French-speaking politicians, for obvious reasons, because the south of the country is poor and has more problems than the north.”

Belgium’s King Albert has installed two new mediators to resolve the political crisis. They will begin new seven-party consultations to break the stalemate of June’s parliamentary election.