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Belgium will split, says poll
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10:15, September 19, 2007

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Two-thirds of the Flemish community from the northern Dutch-speaking region of Belgium think the country will sooner or later split, a poll by Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws showed yesterday.

The paper also said almost every second Flemish person, or 46.1 percent, want Belgium to split, indicating separatists in the region are gathering momentum amid a political impasse.

Belgians held an election 100 days ago but still have no government, with Dutch and French speakers wrangling over how much control the federal government should have.

The outright winner of the popular vote, Yves Leterme, head of the Dutch-speaking Flemish Christian Democrat party, gave up his role of forming a new government because of the impasse.

Another member of his party, Herman Van Rompuy, has been appointed by the King of Belgium to explore with other political leaders how a coalition agreement could be reached.

According to the survey, Leterme, widely thought by Francophones and political observers to hold Flemish rather than Belgian interests at heart, still has the trust of the people in his region with 60.4 percent saying he should be prime minister.

Leterme irked Francophones because of his policy bid to devolve more power to the regions. Flanders, economically strong, complains it has to subsidise the French-speaking region Wallonia.

The Flemish people who are in favour of reforming the state want to make Wallonia, a region which is poorer and has higher unemployment, more accountable and keep more money in the wealthy Dutch-speaking region.

The survey showed 85.5 percent of Flemish people believed they should stick to their guns over the plans to reform the state and 77.3 percent believe this should be the priority of the new government.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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