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(08/06/08) -

French Willing to House Wallonia if Belgium Splits

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many people in France welcome the idea of incorporating Belgium’s French-speaking component into their country, according to a poll by Ifop published in La Voix du Nord. 60 per cent of respondents would favour annexing Wallonia to France if Belgium separates.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many people in France welcome the idea of incorporating Belgium’s French-speaking component into their country, according to a poll by Ifop published in La Voix du Nord. 60 per cent of respondents would favour annexing Wallonia to France if Belgium separates.

In Wallonia, 49 per cent of respondents are in favour of incorporation, while 45 per cent disagree.

In Belgium, the northern region is inhabited by the Flemish-speaking Flemings—who make-up most of the country’s population—while the French-speaking Walloons inhabit the south. Bilingual Brussels is the federal capital. The Flemish provinces were part of the Netherlands until 1831, when the Kingdom of Belgium was established.

In June 2007, a federal election took place in Belgium. Final results gave the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CDV) / New Flemish Alliance (NVA) 30 seats in the Chamber of People’s Representatives. The election sparked a major political crisis, as CVD/NVA leader Yves Leterme failed to assemble a government. Ever since, many politicians and analysts have said there is a possibility of Belgium separating for good.

In December 2007, outgoing prime minister Guy Verhofstadt was given a mandate to form an interim government. On Dec. 21, Verhofstadt presented his cabinet, which included finance minister Didier Reynders and interior minister Patrick Dewael. This administration was to remain in office until Mar. 23, 2008.

On Mar. 20, King Albert II appointed Leterme as prime minister. The CVD/NVA leader heads a coalition government that includes the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD) / Vivant (V), the Socialist Party (PS), the Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH) and the Reformist Movement (MR).

On Jul. 15, Leterme offered to resign after his cabinet failed to agree on proposed reforms that would grant more autonomy to both Flemings and Walloons. The prime minister declared: "It appears that the communities’ conflicting visions of how to give a new equilibrium to our state have become incompatible. (…) The federal consensus-model has reached its limits."

On Jul. 17, King Albert II rejected Leterme’s resignation, and urged for a "credible" dialogue, saying that the prime minister should "encourage as best as is possible" the debate over a potential constitutional reform.

Polling Data

Do you favour or oppose incorporating Wallonia into France if Belgium separates?

 

Wallonia

France

Favour

49%

60%

Oppose

45%

37%

Not sure

6%

3%

Source: Ifop / La Voix du Nord
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 510 French-speaking Belgian adults in Wallonia, conducted from Jul. 18 to Jul. 22, 2008. Telephone interviews with 955 French adults, conducted on Jul. 24 and Jul. 25, 2008. No margin of error was provided.