Who needs a government? Not Belgium! The country broke the world record for the longest political deadlock last week—a distinction previously held by Iraq and its much-fretted-over 249-day holdout. Some quibble that Iraq’s lawmakers had to wait another 40 days to be seated, but no one doubts that Belgium will pass that mark too, becoming, in Time's words, “the undisputed dithering champion.” The crazy part? Everything’s been pretty much fine; a caretaker government has filled in seamlessly.
“By and large, everything still works,” one policy expert said. “We get paid, buses run, schools are open. We can free ride for a while yet.” Indeed, some seem almost jubilant: the record-breaking moment was celebrated with free fries and beer. But the prolonged stalemate has had a couple downsides; it’s widened the division between the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south, and some fear than when the politicians finally do come together, the people won’t care.