COVID-19 Is Pushing Belgium’s Messy Federal System to Its Limits

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes attends a news conference following a meeting of the National Security Council, in Brussels, July 27, 2020 (pool photo by Francois Lenoir via AP).
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes attends a news conference following a meeting of the National Security Council, in Brussels, July 27, 2020 (pool photo by Francois Lenoir via AP).
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BRUSSELS—In their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, some countries have channeled greater powers to their central governments in order to curb the virus’s spread, while others have left their states or regions to fend for themselves. The divergent responses have sparked debates in many countries about federalism and the appropriate role of the state. Here in Belgium, a highly federalized nation whose main political parties have been unable to form a working coalition for more than a year, Parliament approved temporary expanded powers to the caretaker government to manage the coronavirus crisis. On the surface, this seemed like a surprisingly […]

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