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Belgian PM safe for now in languages row

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Belgian PM safe for now in languages row

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Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt appears to have come back from the brink of a serious political crisis. Only hours after a row over languages threatened to bring down his government, his coalition partners have agreed to stick together. French and Dutch speakers have argued for months over how to redraw the borders of a constituency near the capital.

Dutch-speaking Flemings want to use their majority in parliament to split the constituency into two: one would remain part of the capital, which is bilingual but predominantly French-speaking, and the other would become part of Flanders.

A small Flemish nationalist party in the coalition, Spirit, threatened to destabilise the government yesterday by refusing to back the plan, but has now said it will not quit the coalition over the issue. Talks on the issue will continue, while Verhofstadt still faces a confidence vote in parliament on Friday.