Belgium: Long United, Long Divided

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9781849041461: Belgium: Long United, Long Divided
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In this book, Samuel Humes gives us a brilliant insight into the age-long history of Belgium and tells how the linguistic and cultural divide determines the outlook of our country to this day. 'Belgium: Long-United, Long-Divided' has the merit of describing Belgian history without any complexes. Or should I say: without prejudice or bias. ... The objectivity with which this work is steeped makes it particularly worthwhile reading for Belgians. -- Wilfried Martens, former Prime Minister of Belgium At last a brilliant, intensive wide-ranging study of Belgium's history and politics by a political historian who has immersed himself in its remarkable and complex political system - one of the most unusual governments among the world's democracies. The volume concludes with a magisterial and authoritative essay assessing Belgium's 2000-year long history, its present language-driven separatist crisis, and its future prospects. -- James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer, Woodrow Wilson Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Williams College, author of 'Government by the People' and 'Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox'

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This concise history describes the traditions and transitions that over two thousand years have developed in Belgium in a sense of shared identity, common government, and a centralised nation-state - and then over a few recent decades paved the way for Flemish-Walloon schism that now threatens to break up Belgium. It responds to the question: Why does a government, unified for more than 600 years, no longer seem capable of holding together a linguistically divided country In tracing the evolution of Belgian governance, Humes describes why and how the dominance of French-speaking propertied elite eroded after having monopolised the land's governance for centuries. The extension of suffrage, combined with the rise of literacy and schooling enabled labour and Flemish movements to gather sufficient momentum to fracture the Belgian polity, splitting its parties and frustrating its politics. The presence of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has, in a tangential way, enable the Belgian separatists to discount the merit of a national government that is no longer needed to defend the country militarily and economically.

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