Belgium: Five months and still no government

And on it goes…

Belgium waits and waits for a new federal government, almost five months after the election. Next week, it is expected to break its record for the longest-ever talks to form a coalition.

This leaves everyone to muse about the linguistically-divided country’s future, and in particular, the claim that the Flemings of the wealthy (Dutch-speaking) north and the Walloons of the poorer, francophone south, barely know each other.

I suppose when your country has been (briefly) put up for sale on eBay, and the prime minister designate appears unwilling to sing the national anthem, you’re justified in questioning things? But is the doom and gloom making everyone become a bit too tough on themselves?

Two big newspapers – Le Soir (francophone) and de Standaard (Flemish) – ran a “true or false” quiz on how well their readers knew the other side.

Here are some of the questions: (no info on how people responded, unfortunately)

To the Francophones:

  • The mayor of Antwerp is known for his eccentric ties
  • De Standaard’s cartoonist is called Zak

To the Flemings:

  • The Marsupilamis of Charleroi are top of the basketball championship
  • Marie Arena is the children’s minister of the French language community

Would people in any other federal country be able to answer such questions?

I know Belgium is relatively small, but still, do people from opposite ends of other nations know about sports leagues/regional politicians/newspaper cartoonists elsewhere? Maybe the Belgians are better acquainted with each other than they realise.