Is Belgium breaking up?

Belgium faces a difficult process of forming following its parliamentary elections. While the Flemish-nationalist N-VA and the far-right Vlaams Belang won in Flanders, the leftist parties took the day in Wallonia. N-VA leader De Wever has insisted that his party must lead the new coalition and threatened to push through a confederation if it doesn't. The press looks to the future with concern.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Divorce increasingly likely

Sunday's election results are further weakening Belgium's cohesion, NRC Handelsblad concludes:

“The Belgian problem of national ungovernability and inhabitants who are alienated from each other has been aggravated. The step from 'living apart together' to divorce now seems more likely. ... De Wever's statement that 'confederalism' is the only solution for Belgium is interpreted by the Walloons as the definitive division of the country. ... For De Weber this is 'respect for the voters'. Naturally above all for those in Flanders who are keen to get rid of their dear fellow citizens. Because in the event of a separation the Walloons would be hard hit financially. ... In no other Eurozone state are the regional differences as great as they are in Belgium. ... And now we have the election result: an unsolvable puzzle, it seems.”

De Morgen (BE) /

A boost for Flemish nationalists

We should be careful not to draw the wrong conclusions from the election results, De Morgen cautions:

“In the N-VA's view Flanders voted 'massively Flemish-nationalist' on Sunday. But did it? Does Bart De Wever really believe that almost half of the Flemish voted N-VA or VB because they want to split the country in two? ... It doesn't take too much intellectual flexibility to see that a majority of Belgians voted on Sunday for a lower legal retirement age and higher pensions. Yes, the results gave Bart De Wever an unexpected opportunity to revive the old nationalist dream. ... But it would but more honest to admit that the former is the case.”