Belgium’s Prime Minister-in-waiting is still struggling to form a government more than two months after the election. The impasse – caused by major differences between the French-speaking and the Dutch-speaking communities – is proving one of the country’s deepest political crises.
The leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats, Yves Leterme was given until last Thursday to form a coalition.
He couldn’t, and King Albert II suspended formal negotiations.
Leterme is pushing for greater power to be devolved to the regions. About 60 per cent of Belgians live in Flanders.
The Francophones – predominantly in the south – fear the country could break up.
Olivier Maingain of the French-speaking liberals said: “It’s OK if the demands come from the Flemish, but impossible if they come from Francophones.”
Francis Delperée from the CDH party said: “The crisis is already here, today.”
The president of the Flemish nationalists, Bart de Weyer said: “I have to say that the answers and the attitudes of the Francophones make it impossible to continue to work together.”
Despite making big gains in the elections in June, Leterme must have the backing of Francophone parties to form a coalition based on linguistic lines.
If not, he will either have to change his policies on devolving power to the regions, or give up his mandate to form a government.