i on europe


Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

In Belgium’s struggle to survive, unlikely fans


EUPEN, Belgium — As Belgium struggles to survive cacophonous infighting between its Francophones and Dutch speakers, some of the country’s biggest fans are also its unlikeliest.

On the eastern border, a tiny community of German speakers is preparing to celebrate Belgium’s National Day on Thursday with a mixture of pride and trepidation, as the country enters its second rudderless year.



Never before in its 180-year history has the Belgian state been under such pressure to break apart. Since elections last June, when Flemish separatists gained the largest share of the votes, the fractured parliament has been unable to form a government.

A string of mediators has tried, and failed, to shepherd through an overhaul of the federal state that would give Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons the right balance of autonomy and central support to entice both sides to stay within the union.

Caught in the middle are the 75,000 German speakers — the latest and perhaps most loyal bloc of this hybrid nation.



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