Belgium is set to have a new government after a triumphant night for the main opposition party. Outgoing Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt handed in his resignation to the King after conceding defeat after eight years in power.
He was asked to remain in office until a new coalition government is formed.
The leader of that coalition and the man to fill Verhofstadt’s shoes is expected to be Yves Leterme. His Flemish Christian Democrat party has been the dominant force in post-war Belgium, but was ousted by the Liberals in 1999, after public criticism over a food poisoning crisis.
Another party to emerge happy from the election was the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang, who seek independence for the Flemish-speaking region of Flanders.
Flanders makes up 60 percent of Belgium’s population and is economically stronger than French-speaking Wallonia. Many Flemish voters are frustrated that those in Wallonia dilute Flemish economic success.
That notion was reflected in parliamentary gains for parties pushing for more autonomy of the regions.
In Wallonia, there was a marked shift towards the right. The Reform Movement of Didier Reynders broke the dominance of the Socialists.
Francophone socialists endured a miserable election night, with many of their former supporters disillusioned after a series of embezzlement scandals.