March 9th, 2011
04:15 PM ET

Why are Belgians stripping?

If you think America’s politics are divided, take a look at Belgium.

The Northern European country has been without a government for 270 days and counting, as political instability and a separatist movement continue to divide the small nation.

So how have the Belgians been handling their political crisis which seems to have no end in sight?

Parties, booze and strippers – naturally.

Check out the video.

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Topics: Europe • GPS Show • What in the World?

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. BigJandals

    A good story Fareed and well researched .....until you commented that they were probably drinking Heineken in Wallonia!
    As the greatest beer producing nation in the world there is no way they would be drinking Heineken a flavourless Dutch Beer in any part of Belgium for such an event. The story was going so well until then.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
    • PV

      If you google it you will see that Belgium isn't even in the top five!The greatest beer producer is China!

      March 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
      • derp

        China is the not the greatest beer producer, they are the largest beer producer. Making a zillion liters of watered down crap beers does not qualify for greatness. However, when you country can claim home to six of the seven trappist breweries and well as the worlds largest brewing conglomerate, you get to call your country the "greatest" beer producer.

        March 11, 2011 at 11:11 am |
      • Flip Van Waeyenberghe

        Yes until the world leading Belgian beer conglomerate AB Inbev bought Tsing Tao breweries.

        May 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jo Mama

      So true, but I thought he blew it much earlier when he claimed Belgium was in Northern Europe...

      March 11, 2011 at 9:17 am | Reply
    • Simon Smith

      Fareed Zakaria is the most balanced talking head in America, this coming from a Canadian.

      March 11, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      N1 derp !!!!

      March 15, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
  2. Antoine

    Heineken isn't a belgian beer.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  3. Alexander

    Sound like Ukraine. Stripping is there too, but is more exciting, and women are much prettier.

    March 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  4. frogwalloper

    Belgians are the best! I disagree with Zakaria, by the by. Belgians do have a government. It's called self government. Every other form sucks.

    March 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  5. Satya

    Hats of to the politicians of andhra pradesh, india. They have been fighting to divide the state but within the democratic framework. And they have a functional government

    March 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  6. David

    Well... actually, Belgian Federal entities (regions and comunities) all have a government and/or parliament that deal with matters like education, culture, environment and water policies, budget, police, employment,. .. this means that, without federal government, Belgium is still governed at another level ... not to mention the people of course...
    By the way, Heineken is everything but a beer... well, I meant, a belgian beer 🙂

    March 10, 2011 at 4:24 am | Reply
  7. Aardvark

    Clearly, if you can exist that long without a government, you don't need a government.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Patricia Leath

      Dear Aardvark,
      They did not have a government when they went around telling the rest of the world that they WERE a country! Why do they need a government? They never had one to begin with....

      March 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  8. Todd

    Please tell me those half naked men were over the age of consent. I don't want to be that piggy.

    March 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Reply
  9. Bob

    The poor need to rise up against the rich. We need to once and for all believe that many leaders today are evil. Hitler came to power because the people believed in him. Today the tea baggers believe in the Koch's. The Koch's were made of the same cloth as Hitler. The only way we can solve this problem is by taking resources away from the wealthy, reverse the citizens united ruling, and start participating in the process. No more staying at home watching television. No more video games. The Kochs and Hitlers will always be amongst us so we can never let down our guard.

    March 11, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply
  10. joboo

    In Soviet Russia, government strips YOU!

    March 11, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply
    • Claire

      So true!

      March 11, 2011 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • kbaredge126c

      In America too,

      March 12, 2011 at 9:33 am | Reply
  11. AndLima

    Yerrr they probably will need to make a lot of new friends when this is all over. For that They should go to and they also better get insurance at

    March 11, 2011 at 10:03 am | Reply
  12. Claire

    A major factor that the news item doesn't really discuss: Flanders is much wealthier than Wallonia and would benefit greatly from ending their financial support to the poorer south.

    And let's not forget that what the presenter describes as "the French capital joining the Dutch half" is much more complex. Brussels was historically Dutch speaking of course and only later became French speaking. This is perhaps partially because the Flemish tend to speak both Dutch and French very well, while most Wallonians, in spite of living in a bilingual country, can barely put together a single sentence in Dutch. Naturally the capital would then default to French.

    March 11, 2011 at 11:08 am | Reply
    • as

      "the Flemish tend to speak both Dutch and French very well".. Not true... French is by default a more global and more used language than Dutch, and that is why, yes, (some) Flemish people know it better. But I agree that Walloons don't speak Flemish.. here again, why should they? They barely ever visit Flanders the same way that Flemish people don't travel to Wallonia.
      And about Brussels I will just say that way more people speak French rather than Flemish. That is why the journalist said "Brussels is French-speaking" although I don't agree 100% with him. I'd say most people speak French.

      March 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Reply
      • Belingo

        Well, if the fact that Dutch (or Flemish) is the language spoken by the majority of the population of Belgium isn't a reason for the French-speaking Belgians to learn it, then what is? I mean, noone demands they be bilingual, but the fact that Walloons going to Flanders usually use English even for basic communication is, to be honest, quite pathetic...

        March 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
      • Flip V an Waeyenberghe

        First of all, French is indeed more global than Dutch (BTW Flemish is not a language as American or Mexican isnt either). French is spoken in France and in many parts of the third world. Very important indeed.

        May 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Marie

      Bilingual country ????? Not true !!! Brussels is the only bilingual CITY of Belgium ... one would think, it would be an intelligent thing to do and learn the other side language ... and in the facts it's exactly what's happening in Brussels ! Franch speaking kids learning Dutch and the other way around starting in 3d grade ... learning ... forced really, but it's alright, we're used to it and it only makes learning another language, later in life, easier ... indeed ! As far as what language is the most represented in Brussels, well it's by far French .. most foreigners or immigrants will rather learn French than Dutch. Easier to use elsewhere ..

      March 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
      • Belingo

        If a country that has two official languages (well, three, but...) and whose population is something like 55/45% split along the language line isn't a bilingual country, then what is? It doesn't surprise me at all that the two communities are going opposite directions with that kind of attitude..

        And as for kids in Brussels learning both languages.. I am studying at university here, and I can count the people who grew up in Brussels AND speak Flemish on one hand.. no exaggeration.. Some of them are taking Dutch classes along with me (I'm not Belgian) at university, and I score as good grades as them although I only started to learn Dutch last year...

        March 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  13. memine

    Hats off to the Belgians! This is going to be a great story to pass on to the next generation. "Remember that time we had no government and partied in the streets"? Ha. I'd rather be on the French side if they were giving away beer!

    March 11, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
  14. spazz

    a nation even more divided than the US ?
    we have 3 federal states the US 50 !

    March 11, 2011 at 11:31 am | Reply
  15. as

    We Belgians take it as humor because well most of the people don't even care about the politicians. They are the ones responsible for this mess and creating this division amongst Flanders and Wallonia when in fact we don't really hate each other. And personally this absence of government hasn't really influenced our lives directly so why bother? We tend to forget we don't have a government (:

    March 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  16. MH

    As Americans living in Belgium, we find this country full of fantastic people. They truly have a great sense of humor, and are full of common sense as well. This is probably why the lack of government isn't such a big deal for most. This story reports the division among language, which is apparent, but it's not made into a grand issue by most Belgians. The idea behind this division runs deep into history, but Belgians far and away, have a wonderful appreciation for their history, while recognizing that moving forward will happen, eventually. The rest of the world could really learn a lesson or two from Belgium. No govenrment? No problem. Hats off to Belgium and its fantastic people- no matter what langauge they speak or which region they live in!

    March 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  17. Steve Lambrechts

    Nice report, but :

    Brussels isn't French speaking
    Heineken is certainly NOT a Belgian beer.

    Why do I always get the impression that, when foreign reports are being made about the Belgian deadlock, journalists always seem to get their information from the French speaking side. Check your history books.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • Abigail

      Although historically Dutch-speaking (flemish), Brussels became increasingly French-speaking. Now there is quite a small flemish area. This is for the best.

      March 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  18. Filip

    There is no Dutch-speaking area in Brussels, the Brussels region is simply officially bi-lingual. 57% speaks French at home (Rudi Janssens, Brussels Studies, Nummer 13, 7 January 2008). In this pleasant melting pot most people (try to) speak French as 'lingua franca'.

    March 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  19. MsSisu

    Wow. Way to go US... As a European who actually lives here I am starting to understand my European countrymen's sarcastic comment "how does it feel to be the smartest person in the US"... Why do we have newsreporters who report on things they obviously know very little about? As so many others have already pointed out, Heineken is NOT Belgian and Belgium is NOT considered to be part of Northern Europe... Why should we trust anything our newsreporters say when even simple facts like these were incorrect?

    March 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Reply
    • Claire

      American? Last I checked the journalist Fareed Zakaria who is reporting here as the 'expert' was born and raised in India, not America, so from a fellow European: Perhaps, like those others you mention, you are also trying a little too hard to see the bad in Americans, as many Europeans unfortunately do?

      March 12, 2011 at 1:55 am | Reply
  20. leon

    I could be wrong, I think after WWII, the NATO treaty gave the United States special considering to invade Europe through Belgium.

    March 12, 2011 at 12:46 am | Reply
  21. Frank

    1 Handling a political crisis: we do not view it as a crisis, that is why it is taking so long. The people here are not behaving any differently.
    2 Belgium in NORTHERN Europe???
    3 Drinking Heineken? Oh my... .

    Kinda messed up on these 3 parts... Next time talk to a Belgian before writing any article on Belgium.

    March 12, 2011 at 2:30 am | Reply
  22. Belingo

    Here's my point of view on the situation in Belgium:

    It may look funny when Belgians go out on the streets partying to "celebrate" their overtaking Iraq in terms of days without a government, but my problem is that this is basically the only reaction that I am seeing. It's not even that Belgians are so frustrated with their politicians that they have turned away and started to lose interest – during the time that I have spent here at least, there has been no considerable interest in national politics at all. Despite the lack of government – and the government's position was already shaky for quite some time before the last elections – the country works – or at least so it seems. Having come from Germany, I am appalled at the low quality of infrastructure, at the low quality of medical care that I have received (even at the capital's university clinics), etc. My impression is that, politically speaking, Belgians are quite introverted ("all politics are local"), and they do not really care about their national politics. One might look at that with a smile, but it stops being amusing to me when I see that, for example, Belgium has the second-highest suicide rate in the EU (#1 being Finland). The suicide rate is more than double compared to the Netherlands. And yet, there is *nothing* being done to help people at risk, or to improve the quality of mental health care.

    Personally, I believe that Belgium is heading for a split in two – not now, but five or ten years down the road. This is due both to an arrogant stance of a big part of the Flemish political establishment and because of an indifference towards politics on the parts of Walloons/French-speaking Belgians. Unless something happens that will revive a feeling of national unity among all Belgians, this will spell trouble for the country, socially and economically.

    March 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  23. Frederica

    A beautiful nation melting away like over-heated chocolate without cause... Why are Europeans suffering from boredom when the world is facing a crisis?

    March 13, 2011 at 3:43 am | Reply
  24. Frederica

    Europeans need Christianity to get their sanity back.

    March 13, 2011 at 3:59 am | Reply
  25. Phaley

    Anarchy sounds great by this standard. Booze, Parties and Strippers... Not terrorists, murders and whatever other horrible things go along with having no government according to the government.

    March 13, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
  26. Flip Van Waeyenberghe

    Heinken? In Belgium? Not in a million years:

    May 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply

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