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May 26, 2012


Every now and again I have a look at news and current affairs from Belgium, that most interesting of artificial nation-states. Sometimes it is hard to believe that the country exists at all such is the degree of extreme separation that exists between the French-speaking Walloons and Dutch-speaking Flemish. With two national communities sharing one state (not to mention a tiny German-speaking minority), outside of a few regions like the communal, bilingual (and much disputed) capital city of Brussels, people from both sides rarely meet and rarely mix.

The country is rigidly divided along linguistic lines with each community living inside its own ethnic bubble: they have their own separate administrations, municipalities, political parties, societies, trade unions, professional associations, schools, radio and television stations, newspapers… the list goes on and on. There are a few things that bind the nation together. A shared monarchy (that now means more to…

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