Thousands of Belgians rally against political stalemate | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.01.2011
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Thousands of Belgians rally against political stalemate

Belgians rallied in the streets of Brussels on Sunday, calling for an end to the political impasse that has seen their country go without a formal government for more than seven months.

Protesters waving Belgian flags march in the street

Some fear Belgium could split up

Thousands of Belgians have taken to the streets of the capital, Brussels, on Sunday, urging politicians to put aside their differences and form a government.

Belgium has been without a government for 224 days now, with politicians from Flanders in the north and Wallonia in the south deadlocked in coalition negotiations.

An estimated 15,000 people responded to the protest calls by students on social networking site Facebook, making the demonstration the largest of its kind since inconclusive elections last June.

"What do we want? We want a government," cried the protesters, mainly young people, in what they had dubbed the march of "Shame."

"A government, and quick!" read banners carried by marchers. "Divide? Not in our name!"

The two regions are divided by language, with most of the 6 million people in Flanders speaking a dialect of Dutch, and the majority of the 4.5 million Walloons speaking French.

Belgian papers had estimated that up to 30,000 people would take part in the protest, which has been organized by a group calling for more constructive dialogue between the two regions.

Many Dutch speakers are calling for greater autonomy for Flanders, particularly concerning fiscal and social policy. French speakers, meanwhile, want to limit decentralization amid fears of losing funding for their region.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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