Belgium goes into Christmas mired in its third political crisis in twelve months, turning to a veteran power broker to find a new prime minister. Former premier Wilfried Martens was given the task following the resignation of Yves Leterme. Martens is used to political turbulence: he led nine separate governments between 1979 and 1992, and dealt with the recession of the early 80s.
“My job is to find a solution, to get an agreement and to form a new and decisive government as soon as possible,” he said. Leterme quit over allegations his office interfered in a legal inquiry into the failure and break-up of the Belgian bank, Fortis. The row is just the tip of the iceberg – the arguments and the search for a new prime minister made even more difficult by the deep differences between Belgium’s Flemish and Francophone communities.