It was some years ago that a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn’t think of anything more derogatory than “Belgians.” I don’t know about that, but right now, Belgium is in a dead heat with Somalia for “Longest period without a proper government,” the parliamentary elections having been held way back in June, and yet there’s still no coalition.
Lysistrata Marleen Temmerman has proposed the following measure to push things along, as it were:
A Belgian senator and physician wants her fellow legislators to go on a “sex strike” until the country can break the stalemate that has left it without a government for nine months.
Marleen Temmerman’s “legs closed” campaign started as a joke, she told the Star on Wednesday. Now she can only hope it might work where everything else has failed.
“It sounds funny, but the situation is very serious. We have to get a government. There are people crying in the streets for services.”
Belgium is pretty much fragmented for the moment: there are distinct Walloon (Francophone) and Flemish (Dutch-speaking) regions, each with a measure of autonomy and neither with a great deal of fondness for the other. (Brussels, the capital, is officially bilingual.) Temmerman, judging by her Web site, is Flemish; a stance like this would suggest that she’s not among the separatists who would like to see the country split into Whatta Walloonia and Stupid Flanders.
And it’s not like there are no role models:
“We have two cultures, but everywhere in the world people are living with different cultures. Look at Canada. You have a government, why can’t we?”
The Parti Québécois was not available for comment.
This represents a change from earlier in the month, when Temmerman played the perhaps-inevitable “Can’t you guys take a joke?” card, prompting a retort from Jeroen Overmeer, who heads up the New Flemish Alliance, which won a parliamentary plurality but which has yet to form a government:
“Ordinary people may joke about the political situation, but members of parliament have a greater responsibility.”
But Temmerman responded: “I see two different groups of people here. You have people who see the humor who can laugh about it. And you have people who don’t see the humor of it at all.”