Belgium represents both the geographical and symbolic heart of Europe, a dynamic laboratory for constitutional experimentation which combines, according to a complex formula, federalism, devolution, unity, and multi-nationalism. The country features entrenched ethno-linguistic conflicts, political instability, and occasional institutional stalemates, and yet has managed to exploit compromise as an engine for maintaining its shaky balance. Its strong identification in Europe helped ease the pain of the country's 1993 disaggregation which transformed it from a unitary into a federal state; the European community contributed to the containment of centrifugal forces. Since then, Belgium has become an institutional building site for developing and testing new solutions aiming to promote co-habitation of the two linguistic communities. In the June 2010 elections, however, Flemish separatism became more radical, to the point that some observers fear that Belgium may soon "evaporate".
Anna Mastromarino teaches Public Law and Multicultural Policies at the University of Turin.