Voters in Belgium go to the polls on Sunday (December 17) to choose a new government.
Voters in Belgium go to the polls on Sunday (December 17) to choose a new government. The general election was called after the resignation of Prime Minister, Leo Tindemans in October. It was the thirty-sixth time in 45 years that a Belgium government has resigned before completing its full term of office.
SYNOPSIS: September this year. A few weeks after a visit to Japan, Mr. Tindemans resigned from office, after four and a half years in power. The decision followed an argument within the four-party coalition over proposals to divide Belgium into three regions: based largely on differences between two language groups.
Now, it seems that the result of the election may decide what happens to these proposals. The complexity of Belgian politics makes Predictions difficult. there are 12 different parties and within those are further differences because the politicians often put regional loyalty before party loyalty.
Those differences have their roots in the fact that within Belgium there are two language problem, like this from 12 years ago, have sometimes resulted in violent scenes.
In the north, known as Flanders, the language is Flemish and based on Putch. The southern part of the country, Wallonia, contains French speakers. The majority of belgium's population of 10 million are Flemish. To try and reconcile the different groups, the previous government managed to draw up an agreement to create three regions. It is known as the Egmont Pact and under the Belgium would be divided into Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, the capital which would be bi-lingual. Under the proposals there would be a complicated five-level system of running the country. It would also mean that the country would have the highest number of civil servants per square miles (kilometre).
Brussels has had to be proposed as a third region because, although most people there speak French, it lies in the middle of the Flemish area. There were fears that unless it was given a definite boundary, French speakers might move into the Flemish speaking areas around it.
It was disagreement on the plan for brussels that led to the resignation of mr. Tindemans. Despite all the signs of wide differences between the two groups - the defaced road signs, demonstrations and plans to divide the country - recent opinion polls suggest that most Belgians would prefer a united country. Other polls also suggest that if voting was not compulsory, then almost half would not vote - and even more feel the election unnecessary.