Sex strike could spark Belgian deal
Published 09/02/2011 | 17:42
No sex please - we're Belgian.
That's the message a female Belgian politician hopes will catch on amongst the spouses of her colleagues in the Brussels Parliament.
She's not being prudish - she just thinks a temporary withholding of conjugal rights from the nation's elected representatives might be the incentive they need to form a government.
Senator Marleen Temmerman - a gynaecologist as well as a politician - told a Belgian newspaper she got the idea from Kenya where the deadlock over forming a government was broken just after a similar ban in 2009.
Certainly nothing else has broken the political impasse in Belgium, which has now been without an effective government for 241 days.
A row along linguistic lines between the French-speaking southern part and the Dutch-speaking northern part has defeated a series of intermediaries from amongst Belgium's seasoned politicians.
Elections were held last summer, but efforts to forge a coalition since then have also floundered over a struggle for more autonomy for the Dutch-speaking regions.
The caretaker government insists there is no need to panic, but markets are jittery despite the fact that Belgium is not close to the economic mess already experienced in Greece and Ireland.
A recent "grow a beard" campaign proved to be no incentive to find a solution.
Now Ms Temmerman says the partners of the current crop of MPs - male or female - should try the sex ban. "I call on the spouses of all negotiators to withhold sex until a deal is reached," she said in the newspaper interview. "Have no more sex until the new administration is posing on the steps of the Palace."