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Support for Belgium breakup at all time high. News Team

Support for Vlaams Belang and Flemish secession is at an all time high following three months of refusals by Belgium Socialists to form a coalition government.

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Filip Dewinter, head of the nationalist Flemish Interest group, told the Parliament in the Flanders region that it was time for a Czechoslovak-style “velvet divorce.” While his party is the only one openly advocating a split — the other Flemish political groups have rejected his appeal for a referendum on a possible breakup — the issue no longer is taboo among mainstream politicians, and comparisons with Czechoslovakia keep popping up.

For the moment, the key political players in the north, such as Flanders’ Christian Democratic premier, Kris Peeters, and his predecessor, Yves Leterme, are intensifying their calls for more self-rule for the affluent region of 6.5 million Dutch speakers.

The Flemish want constitutional reforms to shift more power in health care, justice and transport to Flanders and Wallonia, the southern French-speaking part of the country.

Many Flemish complain that their wealthier, service-based economy subsidizes Wallonia. Dutch speakers view the Francophones’ dilapidated cities and 14 percent unemployment — double their rate — as the legacy of Socialist rule.

What would become of Brussels is anybody’s guess. It is hard to see Flanders giving up Brussels, but it is equally hard to imagine that Wallonia could survive without it.