Belgium’s long running constitutional crisis is set to continue for at least another six weeks. King Albert has now given his three so-called “wise men” until mid-September to come up with a plan to kickstart talks on power-sharing between the feuding linguistic communities. The trio were expected to present their findings today.
Although the King refused to accept Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s offer to resign, his failure to broker a deal by a mid-July deadline has renewed speculation the 177-year-old country may split.
Leterme’s Flemish Christian Democrats were the clear winners of last year’s general election on a pledge to transfer some federal powers to regions. The more prosperous Dutch-speaking Flanders wants more regional control over taxation and welfare spending.
But the poorer French-speaking regions fear they will lose funding, which may explain why new polls suggest a record number of francophones want to become part of France.