He is being dubbed the “reluctant” prime minister. Despite repeatedly stressing he didn’t want the job, Herman Van Rompuy has bowed to pressure and agreed to form a new government in Belgium.
In the media spotlight as he embarks on that task, the Flemish Christian Democrat knows his future role has all the makings of a poisoned chalice. Currently the country’s parliamentary speaker, Van Rompuy must try to end Belgium’s third political crisis in a year and respond to a looming recession. One woman interviewed on the streets of Brussels seemed to have every confidence in his abilities. Describing Van Rompuy as “capable”, “shy” and “intelligent”, she said he was liked by both the French and Dutch-speaking communities. The former budget minister’s nomination follows a mediation mission by fellow Belgian political veteran Wilfried Martens. Van Rompuy is set to succeed Yves Leterme. His government collapsed earlier this month amid claims of political interference in a court case linked to the break-up of the major bank Fortis.