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Belgium in turmoil as coalition talks collapse

Belgium in turmoil as coalition talks collapse
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Belgium’s political crisis has taken a new turn with the resignation of the prime minister-in-waiting. Yves Leterme quit after failing to win coalition partners for his Flemish Christian Democrats. The party made big gains in June’s general election. But negotiations with other parties have floundered on cultural and linguistic differences. Flemish-speaking politicians from Flanders wanted to devolve more power to the region, something Francophones in Wallonia stongly oppose. After two months of negotiations, the Francophones still would not accept Leterme’s reform plans. Flemish separatists waved banners as Leterme went to the King to tender his resignation, adding to speculation the move could give momentum to those pushing for secession.

Flemish politicians like New Alliance Party leader, Bart de Wever, certainly appear ready to take on the Walloons. He said the Flemish community was in the majority in the country and while it stood by the Francophones, it could not accept that all its wishes were simply brushed aside and swept under the table. “It is just impossible,” he added. Belgian media are predicting the king will either call new elections, or ask a French-speaking negotiator such as popular outgoing finance minister Didier Reynders, to try to form a government.