BRUSSELS: Belgium goes to the polls tomorrow for a snap general election amid fears that growing support for Flemish radicals could push the country further towards a north-south split.Many politicians and observers see the election as vital to the country’s future, with much hanging on how many of the Dutch-speaking majority vote for the independence advocates of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA).As the elections approached, the NVA’s leader, Bart de Wever, was in a buoyant mood.Opinion polls say his party is set to beat the more moderate Christian Democrats of the outgoing Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, to become the biggest in the wealthy Flemish north, with 25 per cent of the vote.Such a seismic shift would not be enough alone to bring the end of Belgium.There could yet be the first francophone prime minister since the 1970s, with the Socialist Party leader Elio Di Rupo out in front in the poorer French-speaking Wallonia to the south. However it would sound loud alarm bells that the two communities, which have lived side by side in devolved partnership for decades, are growing apart.Mr de Wever, who says he is not interested in the top job, does not see himself as a revolutionary. He believes the country, formed in 1830, will ”slowly but surely, very gently disappear”, as powers are devolved further to the regions and to the European Union.What is inevitable in a country with no national political parties is a coalition government comprising parties from both communities in a country where only the capital, Brussels, is officially bilingual.Rainer Guntermann, analyst for Commerzbank of Germany, expects increased political tensions in a country that has gone through three prime ministers, including one twice, since the last general election in 2007.Mr Leterme’s five-party coalition government imploded in April after a Flemish liberal party walked out, frustrated at the lack of progress in talks aimed at clipping special rights accorded to francophone residents in Flanders.While plenty of political horse-trading can be expected after the results become known, Belgium – a founding member of the EU – will be hoping to present a semblance of normality and leadership when it assumes the union’s rotating presidency on July 1.Mr Leterme’s outgoing cabinet will have to deal with day-to-day affairs if there is no new team in place by then.Agence France-Presse
南京夜网