History and Government Faculty Presentations

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Event Date



International Studies Association Annual Convention


New York, NY


The parliamentary deadlock surrounding the 2007 Belgian election, fake news reports of dissolution and Time magazine’s discussion of a Czechoslovak style divorce, showcase how Belgium may be inching towards breakup. We argue that the case of Belgium will be more likely to follow that of dissolution, the consensual breakup of the center; rather than go through a divisive secession, the removal of a territory on the periphery. This differentiates the Belgian case from other contemporary peaceful separatist movements like Quebec, Catalonia and others which may make it more susceptible to breakup. Moreover, we argue that based on Hancock (1998), sufficient political and economic changes could exacerbate tensions such that dissolution becomes increasingly inevitable in the future. We show how the case of Belgium will likely be similar to that of Czechoslovakia in 1993 as well as providing lessons from the breakups of personal unions such as Norway-Sweden in 1905 and Serbia-Montenegro in 2006. In sum, we argue that Belgium will not easily dissolve and that while dissolution is quite possible, it is not yet probable. This study, therefore, presents some interesting theoretical lessons for dissolution, how it occurs and how mature democracies face very real challenges with state breakup.


Dissolution, Europe, Belgium



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