29 March 2011

How long can a Belgian waffle?

Belgium tied the world record with Iraq for time without a government on Tuesday, but months of political waffling that was once a joke is quickly wearing thin.  Tuesday marks the 289th day the country’s bickering Dutch-speaking and Francophone politicians have failed to form a government after a June 13 election — and there’s no agreement on the horizon. Early irritation turned into almost giddy celebration as the country broke the European record in January. Then parties were thrown last month as Belgium matched the time it took for an initial agreement to form an Iraqi government two years ago. Iraq then took another month to actually present its government.

After decades of increasingly difficult compromises, running the country has become increasingly complicated. And richer Flanders has increasingly demanded more autonomy from Wallonia. Walloon politicians, though, want to hang on to as many national institutions as possible for their financial survival. Reconciling those views has proven impossible so far.
Text and title pun from the Washington Post.   After locating the photo at Wikipedia and reading the entry there, I think waffles would be a good subject for a separate post.  I'll put it in the pending file...


  1. Pun du jour!

    That reminds me another one (more of the crash blossom variety):"British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands". (wasn't thinking they had much of a market for waffles down there :)

  2. I've been chatting about this with my Belgian friend (who lives in Flanders) and it's a fascinating example of discrimination and old hatreds. The Flemish people were historically ground beneath the boot heels of their French-speaking Walloon overlords, who considered them uneducated barbarians. (Try to find any Flemish officers in the Belgian army of WW1, for instance. It's like looking for black officers in the American Confederate army.)

    Now that it's the Flemish who enjoy greater economic success and education (most Flemish also speak French, while most Walloons do not speak Flemish), they are not at ALL eager to send more of their tax revenues down to poorer Wallonia. Nor do they care for the movement of Walloons into Flemish territory, especially around Brussels. The Walloons, meanwhile, still tend to see the Flemish as somewhat beneath them and cling fiercely to their old rights. It's a very old problem with a lot of history behind it, and nobody can see a workable way out.

    The great irony, of course, is that this is happening in the very seat of the European Union.


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