Belgium To Celebrate New Championship

In Belgium it’s an excuse for a party: the country’s citizens are marking 249 days without a government today, a figure they are treating as a world record.

Day to day the crisis pits the leaders of 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings against those of 4.5 million French speakers, but people from across the country are putting aside their differences to celebrate the occasion.

In Dutch-speaking Ghent, organizers hope 249 people will strip naked to mark the days of the crisis as part of a party expected to draw thousands. There will be free fries, Belgium’s beloved national dish, in Leuven and lots of Belgian beer in the French-speaking student town of Louvain-la-Neuve.

“Finally World Champion” the usually serious De Standaard headlined its Thursday edition, tongue firmly in cheek.

It is arguable whether 249 really is the record. Iraq took 249 days to get the outlines of a government agreement last year, but the approval of that government took a further 40 days.

“In any country in the world where two peoples live on the same territory, there are always problems. And mostly these problems are solved with a war. And in Belgium we have a history of 180 years without one casualty,” said Brussels politician Luckas Vander Taelen. “It might be boring, but it is better than a civil war.”

Nevertheless, Belgium remains one of the wealthiest nations in the world, giving people the luxury to take things with a chuckle.

“At the end of the day we know we are a very, very happy people and that this is a very happy country. We might have some political problems, but then again, we go home, we have nice homes, fantastic social security, medical care, excellent schools,” said Vander Taelen.

Complete article via Associated Press

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