Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Flanders-Netherlands merger?

Over five months since the 10 June election and Belgium is still without a government. Recently the Dutch newspaper 'Dag on Monday' announced that nearly half of the Dutch would be happy for Flanders and the Netherlands to unite in one country. (54% Dutch men, 36% Dutch women)

Many Dutch supporters of a merger think a new country with a population of 22 million people might enhance their political and economic power in the European Union.

80& of Dutch nationals say they are very fond of the Flemish. The Dutch like the Flemish Burgundian attitude towards life, their accent and their good mood and gentle character.

A Burgundian lifestyle generally indicates a more relaxed approach to life; open, frivolous and exuberant with emphasis placed on good food and drink, notably beer. The 'Roman Catholic' Burgundian lifestyle in the historically strongly Catholic provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg can be contrasted to the 'Calvinistic Protestant' more sober lifestyle of the Dutch living north of the rivers Rhine, Waal and Meuse. The Burgundian lifestyle is considered to be closer to the 'Latin' lifestyles in the southern, Catholic part of Europe.

Many Dutch support a Flanders Netherlands merger. Nowadays, however, according to US academic Luke Fleeman, "the term is used more as an identification layer to differ oneself to others, than that it is a true way of life. More in the Netherlands than in Flanders, true differences between the historically Catholic and Protestant regions have greatly diminished."

The newspaper said it decided to poll the Dutch because of the political crisis in Belgium. "Belgium is lame and the government formation continues to fail," the newspaper writes. "The language barrier between the Flemish and the Walloons appears to be an obstacle. It is high time for the Dutch to help out the Flemish. How? By merging Flanders with the Netherlands."

Between 1815 and 1830 the two countries formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and strong historical and cultural ties continue to exist, the text of the petition continues.

"We welcome the Flemish if they want to merge with us. Anticipating a possible merger, the Dutch Protestant reformed crown-prince has already married a Roman-Catholic wife," the petition says. "Princess Maxima may become the Belgian queen and Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander the Dutch king, but the Belgians can also retain King Albert."

The petition also points out a merger might end the competition between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, enhance the chances of the new merged state at the Eurovision song festival and strengthen the Dutch language.

Readers of the newspaper also suggested a new name for the merged countries: Netherbelgium, Orangeland, Deltaland, Lowlands and the Dutch-Flemish Federation.

source: Expatica 12 November 2007

This is all very well but in 1830 the Belgian people rose to a revolution to gain independence from the Dutch. I do not think they are in any hurry to reunite.

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