Belgium has been thrown into chaos once again at the highest level. Prime Minister Yves Leterme has tendered the resignation of the entire government, over claims that his office tried to interfere in a ruling by the Appeal Court.
Leterme has been under pressure to stand-down since earlier this week, when the Supreme Court reported that although there was no legal proof of interference, there were significant indications pointing in that direction. The Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onckelinx said: “I don’t think it was possible to function any more, and as such we had to offer our collective resignation.” Belgium’s King Albert now has to decide whether to accept the resignation. A royal palace statement said he has begun consultations, but is taking his time. The saga has its roots in the global financial crisis, and its crippling effect on the giant Fortis bank. Having seen the value of their holdings collapse, small shareholders started legal action to stop the government from carving up Fortis, and selling the Belgian operations to BNP Paribas. Last week, the court did rule to freeze the break-up temporarily, throwing the government bailout plan into disarray.