Thousands of Belgians have held street parties on Thursday and Friday in typical tongue-in-cheek style for going without a government for over 250 days, the longest time a country has not had a national administration.
In Ghent giant trophies were passed around by the crowd during a street party as the clock struck twelve on Friday morning, signalling that Belgium had officially beaten Iraq for going without a government.
The current impasse is caused by a political deadlock between the country’s French and Flemish politicians with seven political parties unproductively involved in government-forming talks. Resigned to the situation King Albert gave acting prime minister Yves Leterme another fortnight to come up with a plan. So far several ideas, including forming a government of national unity, have failed to break the deadlock.
While it is a serious situation, many Belgians make light with a public striptease earlier this week with one person taking of their clothes for every day Belgium has been without a government.
However some politicians are calling for more serious demonstrations of soldiarity and one senator, Marleen Temmerman, has made national and international headlines by calling for a sex ban.
Senator Temmerman launched her unusual appeal demanding the country’s politicians to put sex on hold until Belgium has formed a government.
“Some people were very upset and angry. They say we are making a joke of a serious situation,” she said. “This is something that is very serious and we organise festivities in the streets . . . it is very sad.”
Part of the reason for the indifference is that many services are organized at a local or regional level rather than at the federal. Rubbish is still collected, schools and hospitals are still open, the transport system still runs and roads are repaired. The only thing that is broken is the government.