BELGIË
Also: Belgique.
Officially: Koninkrijk België; Royaume de Belgique.
English: Belgium.
Seat of government: Bruxelles / Brussel.
Status: Democratic.
Governing parties: Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie; Mouvement Réformateur (Parti Réformateur Libéral, Mouvement des Citoyens pour le Changement, Front Démocratique des Francophones); Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams; Open VLD (Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten, Vivant, Liberaal Appèl Plus).
Heads of government: Charles Michel, MR, prime minister; Bart de Wever, leader of NVA.
Other parliamentary parties: Parti Socialiste; Socialistische Partij Anders; Centre Démocrate Humaniste; Ecolo; Groen!; Libertair, Direct, Democratisch; Parti Populaire.
Assessment: Has reorganized itself along linguistic-cultural lines, but this has not eliminated the conflict. Nederlands-speaking Vlaandaren is more prosperous and more populous, and is demanding more local power, while Français-speaking Wallonie is insisting on a continuation of the federal role and its accompanying wealth transfer. The last stable government, a center-left coalition led by Guy Verhofstadt and VLD, lost in general elections in 2007. The new largest party was the CD&V, led by Yves Leterme; Leterme twice gave up on forming a government because of disagreements on further devolution. But a deal on an interim government, led by Verhofstadt, also included a deal on limited devolution and for Leterme to assume the premiership. The deal was also predicated on reaching a deal on devolution; failing in that, Leterme offered to resign, but a committee of non-Nederlands-speakers was appointed instead to explore options. After the global financial crisis and the government rescue of the bank Fortis, Leterme resigned again. His replacement was Herman van Rompuy, also of CD&V, but Rompuy resigned in 2009 to take the first permanent presidency of the European Council, and Leterme returned. In 2010, Open VLD withdrew from government over the chronic electoral-linguistic problem; Leterme again tendered his resignation, and snap elections were held in June, with the Vlaams separatist NVA finishing first, the Wallon integrationist PS second, highlighting the growing divide. After more than a year under a caretaker government led by Leterme, Elio di Rupo of the PS became prime minister, with the NVA choosing not to participate and the Greens excluded. Elections in 2014 led to another plurality for the NVA; a center-right coalition was formed after five months, with NVA participating but again ceding the premiership.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 8.16 (20), full democracy.
Updated: 2014 October 20.
 

O.T. FORD