Belgium has set a date for its federal election. The contest will take place on June 10, the same day as the first round of parliamentary elections in neighbouring France. The Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has issued a statement saying that he will now seek cabinet approval of the date at a meeting on Friday.
Verhofstadt, who heads a coalition government of Liberals and Socialists, added that he expected the government to announce a budget in March in balance for the eighth consecutive year. Despite Belgium’s strong economic performance, immigration and Flemish independence issues may prove to be crucial.
The far-right Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest party, made sweeping gains in local elections four months ago. In the past, the mainstream parties have formed alliances to block the anti-immigration party from power but some analysts say it is this action which has led many to protest against the status quo.