The man trying to break the political gridlock in Belgium is continuing his talks with party leaders, and is even hopeful of success before the end of the year. Former premier Wilfried Martens was charged by King Albert with finding a new prime minister, with Belgium mired in its third political crisis in twelve months.
The King appealed on television for politicians to find a solution as quickly as possible: “It is my fervent hope that a sense of responsibility will mean the swift formation of a new government, which will have to tackle the difficult economic, social and financial challenges facing our country, and also to introduce much-needed political reforms,” the King said. Martens’ chances of success are hampered by the deep divisions between Belgium’s Dutch-speaking and Francophone regions. The Flemish north wants greater financial autonomy at the expense of the poorer French-speaking south. Add the general global financial gloom, and it is not surprising so few Belgian politicians want to be prime minister.