Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

Europe

Tens of thousands rally to demand politicians form a government

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-23

Thousands marched in Belgium Sunday to demand the formation of a government, more than seven months after an inconclusive legislative vote left a caretaker administration in power while party leaders argued over giving more power to the regions.

REUTERS - Tens of thousands of Belgians took to the streets on Sunday to shame political leaders who have failed to form a government more than seven months after an election and left the country at the mercy of financial markets.

Organisers of the "Shame: no government, great country" protest said up to 50,000 people had joined the march through the capital Brussels. Police put the figure at 34,000.
 
Protesters were encouraged to wear white in an echo of the "White March" of 1996 when 300,000 Belgians demonstrated for better child protection after the arrest of paedophile serial killer Marc Dutroux. White was seen as the colour of hope.
 
"Many called it meaningless, naive or shallow. But let me ask you, what is meaningless in demanding that we want a government?" student and co-organiser Thomas Royberghs told the crowd, who spontaneously chanted back "Yes we can".
 
One large banner twinned the demand for a new government with Belgians' favourite drink and food. "We want beer, fries and a government," it said.
 
Since the inconclusive June 2010 parliamentary vote, a caretaker administration has run the country while Dutch- and French-speaking party leaders have argued over the degree to which powers and tax-raising rights should be transferred to regions of the linguistically divided country.
 
French-speakers particularly view further devolution as a step towards the break-up of Belgium, something they oppose.
 
"We are here because we want to show the political leaders that things must change.. It's the politicians who are trying to split the country. I'm against the separation of Belgium," said 36-year-old Laurent de Leeuw, marching with his five-year-old son.
 
In the past two months, financial markets have also woken up to the impasse, increasing the country's borrowing costs.
 
Economists say the lack of a fully-fledged government means Belgium cannot take reforms required to rein in its heavy debt and left investors wondering whether the country could eventually need a bailout.
 
Belgium's public sector debt has approached the size of its annual economic output and was the third highest in the euro zone in 2009, behind only Italy and bailed out Greece. Only rescue fund recipient Ireland appears to have caught up last year.
 
The protest is the latest in a series of sometimes eccentric civil actions designed to show public discontent at the post-election deadlock -- now at a record 223 days.
 
One Facebook group has called for a demonstration on Feb. 17, when it says Belgium will break the world record for government formation set by the current Iraqi administration. "Support our heroic politicians in their mythical world record attempt at forming a government," the site says.
 
Another group has set up a "virtual camping site" outside the prime minister's office. More than 140,000 people have signed up to the online petition demanding tax be paid back if a new government cannot be formed within the next 100 days.
 
"What do you do if you've paid for something that doesn't work? You get your money back. Completely logical. Completely fair," the website Camping16 said. (www.camping16.be).
 
Belgian actor Benoit Poelvoorde has urged all Belgian men not to shave until a government is formed. So far, 635 people have uploaded pictures (www.unebelgiqueaupoil.be), showing they are growing beards in support.
 

 

Date created : 2011-01-23

  • BELGIUM

    Belgians demand politicians break deadlock or give 'money back'

    Read more

  • BELGIUM

    'Get ready for the break up,' warns top Belgian minister

    Read more

  • BELGIUM

    Bid to form govt fails as Francophone leader quits talks

    Read more

COMMENT(S)