Belgium’s King Albert has moved swiftly to ensure the loss of his prime minister to the European presidency does not also rob him of a viable government.
In late-night talks he has reappointed his troubleshooter and former prime minister Wilfried Martens to find a new leader. Former PM Yves Leterme is the favourite to have another go at restoring stability, but the task proved beyond him the last time he tried, taking nearly a year to form a government which then only lasted nine months. Belgium’s French-speakers are only lukewarm in their support for him. Last December it was Martens who broke the political deadlock when he advised the king to let Herman Van Rompoy apply his skills as mediator. Today’s Belgian press wonders if the country is now due for another period of political instability with his departure. However politicians may have learnt the lesson, with some saying they will now strive to continue Van Rompoy policies without him.