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Belgium

Yearbook 2010

2010 BelgiumBelgium. In Belgium, again, an acute government crisis ensued, which did not receive any solution during the year. In April, Prime Minister Yves Leterme resigned, for the third time since the 2007 election. The five-party coalition he led collapsed due to disagreement over constituency in the Brussels region. It is a long-contested issue that reflects the deep divide between Dutch-speaking Flemish and French-speaking Walloon.

The government collapse triggered new warnings about political stalemate and the risk of the country falling apart in its constituents. Fears were hardly dampened by the new election held in June.

According to COUNTRYAAH, the winner of the election became the Flemish nationalist party NV-A (New Flemish Alliance), which in the long term wants an independent Flanders. The party went from 5 to 27 seats in the House of Representatives. The second largest was the French-speaking Socialist Party, PS, which received 26 seats. The losers of the elections became the Christian Democratic and Liberal parties in both camps, as well as the right-wing Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang.

2010 Belgium

Tense government negotiations followed between NV-A as well as socialists, Christian democrats and environmental parties on both sides the language barrier, a total of seven parties. As before, the Flemish parties demanded greater independence for the regions, while the French-speaking people slowed down. Both PS leader Elio Di Rupo and NV-A's Bart De Wever made attempts to form government.

Information on sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church shook the Belgians during the year. The bishop of Bruges resigned after admitting that he had mistreated a boy for several years. An internal commission then received testimony from over 500 men and women exposed as children. Most of the abuses took place in the 1960s and 1970s.

The House of Representatives voted in favor of a ban on clothing that conceals identity in a public place. Security reasons and "Belgian values" were cited as reasons, but there was no doubt that the law was aimed at Muslim veils. The proposal was passed in the House of Representatives with unusual agreement across language boundaries, but stuck in the Senate because of the political crisis.

The worst train accident in Belgium in half a century occurred in February. Eighteen people were killed and about 150 injured when two commuter trains crashed at high speed south of Brussels. The accident caused several weeks of traffic disruptions, even to neighboring countries.

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