The title of a interesting book I have been reading recently is: From national independence to national disintegration
Belgium is currently facing its most serious political crisis since the nation achieved its independence in 1831.
The land is threatening to disintegrate under the strain of a long-standing ‘nationalities’ problem.
On the one hand there is Flanders, which wishes to see the further division of the country.
On the other hand there is Wallonia, which wants to preserve the status quo.
In between them stands the Brussels capital city region, whose position is far from clear.
This book examines the fault lines which have led to the current situation. In particular, the democratisation of voting rights in 1893 and the growing regionalisation of the economy after 1970 are crucial factors.
Both helped to strengthen the regional identities of Flanders and Wallonia, against the background of an institutional model that seems to have reached its limits.
This is the first book in English on the history of the actual disintegration of Belgium. It analyses how Belgium and its kings managed to control in a non-violent way the complex nationalist antagonisms between Flemings and Walloons.
Herman Van Goethem (1958) teaches Contemporary History at the University of Antwerp. He is a member of the Belgian Commission Royale d’Histoire (Royal Commission of History), and of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten).
He is also curator of the Museum of the Shoah in Mechelen (opening in 2012).
published in April 2011