Belgium budget clears way for new government

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Belgium budget clears way for new government

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In Belgium, the political stalemate is set to end with Elio di Rupo likely to become the next prime minister after the King asked the French speaking socialist leader to form a new government.

The move comes after the political parties reached a deal on the 2012 budget in which Belgium would reduce its deficit to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product.

The agreement cleared the last major obstacle to the formation of an new government more than 18 months after elections were held.

“I think that we can be satisfied we have a budget that was put together in a responsible way and that offers perspective. It includes things that need to be done, also things that are not always pleasant,” said Bruno Tobback, leader of the Flemish socialist party.

“Europe wanted measures to keep more people at work,and we go a long way towards that goal. This is a budget with reforms that will satisfy Europe,” was the reaction of Alexander De Croo, leader of the Flemish liberal party, Open VLD.

Pressure was building on Belgium to act after Standard and Poors downgraded the country’s credit rating, saying the government’s inability to respond to economic pressures had contributed to the downgrade.

Under the new budget it is expected Belgium will be able to balance its books in 2015.

Analysts said the intervention by S&P was decisive in getting the six parties in talks to reach a deal, overcoming deep-seated linguistic and political divisions.