Will I be the next Belgian PM?

Which leads me on to the question foreign journalists are fond of asking at the moment: to whit, for how much longer will Belgium remain a country? Today’s General Election has produced an entirely predictable result and it feels a little like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. On the other hand, some commentators are tonight arguing that the traditional practice, whereby the largest parties in each regional community are automatically considered to be obligatory parts of any national coalition, should be disregarded. That would, most controversially, leave Bart De Weever’s New Flemish Alliance Party out in the cold, although it has won some 27 of the 150 seats in the lower house. It would be a very risky move. At the same time, in the other ‘half’ of the country, Elio Di Rupo’s socialists have won just one seat less and could conceivably govern without the NFA. A time for steady hands and cold-blooded calculation! In any case, to paraphrase MarkTwain, reports of Belgium’s death are much exaggerated – for the time being.