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One in four Belgians wants to separate the country
A quarter of Belgians would like to split up the country, according to a survey published this week in Le Soir.
Like many previous questionnaires, however, there is no clear country-wide majority calling to break up Belgium. About 28% of Flemish people are in favour, compared to 18% of Walloons and 17% of Brussels residents.
Meanwhile, the 1,303 voter survey carried out between 28 August and 2 September revealed that more than half the respondents – 56% – said it would be impossible to keep the country together in future (58% in Wallonia, 46% in Flanders and 47% in Brussels).
The survey also raised the thorny question of national (federal) and regional powers. Here, only 38% of Flemish people favoured the status quo, compared to 60% in Brussels and 62% in Wallonia.
The debate – exacerbated by the Flemish/French language divide – has raged for years. Flanders particularly has called to become its own separate – critics may say separatist – state. Other proposals have been for Flanders to become part of the Netherlands and Wallonia to join France.
One Blankenberge resident, Nadine, told RTBF: “I would feel much better, more at ease and reassured if Flanders was its own state. I wonder if it could not even become a future ‘little Monaco’.”
Liege resident Manuel foresaw a split “in the short or medium term”, saying: “In Flanders they live differently, see things differently and envisage the future differently.” And politicians’ views play a part, he added, noting 30% of Flemish people support the nationalist Bart de Wever who wants to split up the country.
Meanwhile Laurent, from Jumet, near Charleroi, said a split should be avoided at all costs, as: “It’s Belgium that counts, not Flanders or Wallonia."
He argued language was a real obstacle to unity, given the substantial decrease in the proportion of people speaking Dutch: “Before we had to learn Dutch at school, but now they offer a choice of Dutch and English and students opt less for Flemish.”