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Flemish and Walloons invited to debate along language border – over a beer
The Flemish and Walloons don’t get along. Or do they?
Some politicians are trying to convince us that the recent elections show a country so divided it cannot possibly form a federal government. Confederalism is the only answer!
One Belgian brewer would like to test this theory. From 26 to 30 August, Leffe (brewed by AB InBev) will be served at 1,000 café tables along the 400 kilometres of the language border. On one side of the table: a French-speaker from Wallonia. On the other side: a Dutch-speaker from Flanders.
Will it all end on fisticuffs? Neither Leffe nor political analyst Dave Sinardet think so. The latter has developed 10 talking points to get the conversations going in an event dubbed Nationaal Terrasse Nationale.
“So much is said about the Dutch-speakers and the French-speakers in politics,” says Sinardet, a political science professor at VUB, “but rarely is there an actual debate organised. Even though that’s the only way to develop solutions. My 10 questions are going to explore how many tables can come to a compromise, and how quickly.”
The beer that binds
Leffe has also taken other steps to ensure that the formation of a federal government goes smoothly: It sent a case of beer to several politicians as well as the king.
Part of the goal of ‘the longest terrace in Belgium’ is to stimulate the same kind of positive debate, says AB InBev spokesperson Laure Stuyck. “There’s obviously no better way to have a good talk than to share a glass of beer,” she says. “And that’s just one of the many matters that the Flemish and the Walloons still have in common.”
If you are a French speaker living in Wallonia or a Dutch speaker living in Flanders, you can sign up to take part in the debate. And don’t worry, precautions have been taken against the debate getting too lively: Leffe Blonde 0.0% will be served.
Photo: Sometimes the language border is, conveniently, along a road, but sometimes it cuts right across a field. Pick your place at the link above