On February 18th 2011, Belgium – not used to being world champions at much – took the title from the Iraqis to break the modern world record for the longest period without a government; 220 days after last years June election. It is a sobering thought that, as the regimes of North Africa have their 1848, falling like dominos, and western media opines about the voice of the people and the triumph of democracy that the developed world would be best advised to pause for thought.

Looking for the X factor