Brussels: Many would see it as a humiliation, but for Belgium it’s an excuse for a party: The country’s citizens are marking 249 days without a government on February 17, a figure that they are treating as a world record.
Day-to-day, the crisis pits the leaders of 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings against those of 4.5 million French speakers, but people from across the country are putting aside their differences to celebrate the occasion.
In Dutch-speaking Ghent, organizers hope 249 people will strip naked to mark the days of the crisis as part of a party expected to draw thousands. There will be free fries, Belgium’s beloved national dish, in Leuven and lots of Belgian beer in the French-speaking student town of Louvain-la-Neuve.
King Albert has already tasked the caretaker government of acting Prime Minister Yves Leterme to take special measures to safeguard the economic stability of the country for some time to come. “It takes time. A world record is not a shame,” he said.