Belgium No. 1 in days without government

Feb. 18, 2011 at 10:02 AM
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BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Belgium has been without a government for 250 days -- breaking a modern-day record that was held by Iraq -- and some Belgians managed to joke about it.

Across the country, Belgians marked the event with mock celebrations toasting their non-government leaders who haven't been able to form a working coalition since elections in June, The Guardian reported Friday.

Iraq was without a government for months after its elections in March but leaders late last year reached consensus on coalition governance.

"Our politicians are heroes," joked Edmund Cocquyt in Flanders. "We're proud of this. Finally we can send out a positive message about Belgium -- my country is the world record-holder."

In Ghent, a street party honoring eight government-free months spoofed a world championship ceremony. Residents in Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven and Liege had their versions of a Red Nose Day meant to shame politicians, The Guardian said.

"We're making a joke but it's no laughing matter," a Ghent resident said. "It's really very serious. We might be partying. But we've had enough."

On Thursday, word from Brussels indicated new elections would be in April. Belgium's King Albert II has appointed caretaker ministers until a new government is formed.

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