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Belgian King continues government deliberations

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Belgian King continues government deliberations
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In Belgium, the rumour mills are already buzzing about who might be the next Prime Minister, even before the country’s King has decided about the resignation of Yves Leterme’s administration. It has become something of a habit for Leterme. This time, he has offered to stand down amid claims of governmental meddling in the judiciary. Political analyst Pierre Vercauteren said: “Politically he’s been extremely weakened. It’s the fourth time he’s resigned, twice as Prime Minister and twice as Prime Minister designate. That’s a lot. Even those in his own party are saying his time is over.”

Among those being talked about as a possible replacement is Didier Reynders. He is already a member of the coalition, which is seen as a plus point. But as Finance Minister, he is possibly tainted by the Fortis Bank affair which sparked this crisis in the first place. Jean Luc Dehaene is from the Flemish community but was born in France, so could provide a bridge between the two linguistic parts of Belgium. And he has also been Prime Minister before. Another front-runner is Herman Van Rompuy, the Christian Democrat president of the lower house of Parliament, and reportedly a man in-favour in Royal circles.

Or it could be the popular elder statesman Guy Verhofstadt, whom the King recalled to the Premier’s office when Leterme failed to put together a coalition for the second time last December.