According to Countryaah, during World War I, Belgium was occupied by Germany. The Treaty of Versailles guaranteed the return of the Eupen and Malmedy regions. Belgium signed an agreement on military cooperation with France in 1920 and the following year, Belgium and Luxembourg became an economic entity. In Africa, Belgian forces occupied the former German colonies of Rwanda and Burundi.
In the interwar period, the authorities introduced equal suffrage, but only for men. Parliament passed a law imposing 8-hour working day, progressive taxes and state pension. In 1930, the country was divided into two autonomous territories: Flanders and Wallonia, with Dutch and French as official languages respectively.
Belgium declared itself neutral during World War II, but was nevertheless occupied by Germany from 1940-1944. After being a prisoner of war with the Germans, the Belgian king returned, creating the basis for an extensive conflict. In a referendum, it turned out that 57% of the population was in favor of his return, but tensions in the Walloon regions forced Leopold to abdicate in favor of his son, Bauduin.
In 1947, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg formed the economic cooperation organization Benelux, which later became the driving force in the formation of the EU. Belgium was admitted as a NATO member in 1949. Belgian Congo declared its independence in 1960, but Belgium and the Western powers continued to intervene in the former colony. In 1962 both Rwanda and Burundi became independent.
Women’s suffrage was introduced in 1949. In 1975, Belgian women succeeded in obtaining equal pay in the labor market. During the period between 1960 and 1970, the language struggle and the question of Brussels’ status deteriorated. In 1980, Parliament adopted a new federal structure, dividing the country into the Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels regions.
The erection of rockets with atomic warheads in Belgium led to a fierce national polemic at the end of 1983. In 1984 and 1985, NATO facilities and Belgian companies working or NATO were exposed to a number of attacks. The missiles were removed in 1988, following the conclusion of an arms reduction agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In 1990, under protest from the Christian-democratic government, Parliament decided to introduce free abortion. In order not to sign the law, King Bauduin temporarily abdicated.
Belgium was able to register an average unemployment rate of 11.3% between 1983 and 1988, in Europe surpassed only by Spain and Ireland. The economy developed quite favorably in 1989, but after falling in 1990, unemployment rose to 14.1% in 1993.
In April 1989, Belgium reiterated its offer to support NATO’s deployment of short-range missiles in Europe, but declined to participate in the modernization of the project until 1992.
Vlaamse Blok, an anti-xenophobic party that based its election campaign on the demand for expulsion and repatriation of foreigners, doubled its mandate in the November 1991 elections.
After 4 months without political leadership, the post of prime minister in March 1992 was handed over to Jean-Luc Dehaene, who formed a coalition government with the participation of Christian Democrats and Socialists. Dehae immediately introduced a plan to reduce the government deficit, which implied drastic cuts in public spending.
The 1994 elections revealed the widespread distrust of the people of the coalition government parties. In the elections to the European Parliament in June and in the municipal elections in October, the socialists lost their votes, while the Vlaamse Blok, for example, showed up. to become the second largest party in Antwerp.