The feeling of relief in the Belgian parliament is obvious. Belgian MPs have voted in favour of Guy Verhofstadt’s interim government, which has been charged with solving six months of political paralysis.
“We live in a country which I believe is fantastic. A country without chauvinism, above all a country of sensible people who work hard. Let us do the same,” he appealed.
As well as tackling rising food and fuel prices, Verhofstadt’s team must continue their negotiations over regional reforms which have divided Dutch and French-speaking groups.
They are so far apart the King was forced to step in and call for compromise, and this interim administration is to run Belgium for at least the next three months.
The uncertainty even led to fears that Belgium could split along linguistic lines. The wealthier Flemish north wants more autonomy, at the expense of poorer French-speaking Wallonia to the south. But despite the gloomy warnings, opinion polls and marches have shown that most Belgians want their country to stick together.