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Belgium matches Iraq's record for time without government

Belgium held a general election on June 13 last year. 249 days later, it’s still without a new government – a world record.

Belgium's finance minister Didier Reynders: the country will tomorrow have gone 250 days without a government, a new world record.
Belgium's finance minister Didier Reynders: the country will tomorrow have gone 250 days without a government, a new world record.
Image: Elisa Day/AP

BELGIUM MAY be known for its relatively few famous people, but now the country has a more unwanted reason to find itself in the world’s news: it’s about to set a new World Record for the longest time without a government.

The country held a general election on June 13 last year, but the new parliament has yet to appoint a new government – a full 249 days later, equalling a record set by Iraq last November.

Parties have struggled to negotiate deals for a power-sharing administration largely because the country’s three federal areas – the bilingual city of Brussels, the French-speaking Wallonia, and the Dutch-speaking Flemish area – all elected parties of differing political hues.

The Flemish region was dominated by separatists, while the south is dominated by Socialists who are less keen to see Belgium broken up.

Outgoing finance minister Didier Reynders yesterday had his deadline for forming a new government extended by King Albert II, and now has until March 1 to decide whether institutional reforms can be made in order to break the country’s political deadlock.

The Guardian reports that Belgium has coped reasonably well with the power vacuum, largely because the country’s regional governments – which, given the linguistic divide, have more autonomy than most – are still functional.

It adds that the absence of a national administration has meant the country has been unable to spend money – which may have been a positive thing, with the country’s economic output growing since the last election.

That’s not to say the absence of a government has gone unnoticed though: the EU Observer explains that some men have decided not to shave until a new government has formed, while women have withheld sex from their partners until the new administration takes power.

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Gavan Reilly

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