Belgium is without a government, and meetings between politicians and King Albert have shed no light on who will become the next prime minister.
Yves Leterme offered his government’s resignation on Friday over its handling of the Fortis bank rescue. That offer has now been officially accepted by King Albert, who must now help find a successor. Leterme was accused of interfering in a legal investigation into the failure of the Fortis bank. The king could appoint an interim government, but Leterme has ruled out any return to office. The leader of Belgium’s Flemish Christian Democrats, Marianne Thyssen, is one of the favourites to become the new Prime Minister. She met King Albert for discussions last night. Another favourite is the veteran former premier Jean-Luc Dehaene but, at 68, he may be considered too old for the job. The French-speaking former finance minister, Liberal Didier Reynders, is a political heavyweight, but he is showing no eagerness to lead a country plagued by division, and embroiled in a financial and political crisis. Another name being mooted is that of European commissioner and former foreign minister Louis Michel, a Liberal and a French speaker. Whoever steps into the premier’s seat faces a daunting task, and several politicians have already said they do not want such a poisoned chalice.