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Belgium on the brink as PM quits

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Belgium on the brink as PM quits

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The leader of Belgium’s Flemish Christian Democrats is the favourite to become Prime Minister, as the government teeters on the brink of collapse. Marianne Thyssen met King Albert last night, after the king spent the weekend sifting the prime ministerial possibilities.

If not her, then veteran former premier Jean-Luc Deheane could step back into the breech. He has the experience, but is 68 and possibly seen as too old. Others in the frame include Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the lower house of parliament, who could serve as a stop-gap leader. Another former premier, Guy Verhofstad, has been mentioned, but has already ruled himself out. Belgiuim’s latest crisis was sparked by the resignation of Yves Leterme. He was accused of interfering in a legal investigation into the failure and subsequent break-up of the Fortis bank, an early victim of the world financial crisis. The key question is will a new leader be able to complete a full term to 2011, or whether a temporary administration can struggle on to next June, when regional and European elections are scheduled. The spectre of the break-up of Belgium itself remains a possibility.