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Do as the Belgians Do? The Country that went 589 Days Without a Government

Senate leaders alleged the government freeze could stretch for several weeks, but some countries have weathered even longer deadlocks — take Belgium for instance.


Between 2010-11 the democratic country of Belgium was run with no elected government official. While the United States shutdown was caused by dissent over Obamacare funding between the House and Senate, a rift between the Dutch-speaking North and the French-speaking South caused Belgium to go rogue. Given the fact, it seems rather ironic the country’s motto is "Unity Makes Strength.”

State governments continued to function in Belgium during the ordeal, as they will in America.

Herman Matthijs, a professor of politics at the Free University of Brussels, even said the shutdown had advantages:

"A government without power can't introduce new taxes. On the other hand, a government without full powers can't take new measures concerning the outlays. The political crisis relating to the public finance saved money."

According to TIME, zero government did little to alter the daily lives of Belgians and it curbed unwanted spending:

“Many state functions, from education to welfare, have already been ceded over the years to regional and community governments. Belgium deftly helmed the presidency of the E.U. in the second half of 2010, and the caretaker government last month headed off market jitters over its debt levels by quickly agreeing on a tighter budget. The country is recovering well from the downturn, with growth last year at 2.1 percent (compared with the E.U. average of 1.5 percent), foreign investment doubling and unemployment at 8.5 percent, well below the E.U. average of 9.4 percent.”

No one is advocating for a government shutdown in the United States. However, it is important to remember that allowing the time needed for the House and Senate to create a solution is a viable option.

President Obama said Tuesday that the longer the shutdown, the worse the effects will be, and he left it to the House to cave-in:

“So once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work. This is only going to happen when Republicans realize they don't get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands.”

Ideals are worth fighting for, Mr. President.

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