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Belgium set for new political merry-go-round

 Belgium set for new political merry-go-round
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A fresh game of political chess is beginning in Belgium following the King’s refusal to accept the prime minister’s resignation.

Yves Leterme, leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats, went to the King on Thursday after a deadline passed to broker a deal between French and Dutch speaking parties on devolving more powers to the regions.

In the meantime the fractious coalition government will remain in place.

Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister, Didier Reynders, said the search will continue for “solutions to restart the government’s socio-economic programme and a way to open a dialogue between communities on reforming the state.”

Leterme became prime minister in March after nine months of deadlock during which his predecessor Guy Verhofstadt was forced to head a caretaker administration.

Leterme’s Flemish Christian Democrats have failed to convince French-speaking parties that they will not lose out if their richer northern neighbours were able, for example, to vary taxes.

The King has now placed Belgium’s immediate political future in the hands of three other people – two senior French-speaking politicians and the head of Belgium’s small German-speaking community.

They have to report back with suggestions at the end of the month.