Facing a chronic political and economic crisis, King Albert II of Belgium has urged his country’s warring politicians to begin talks on forming a new administration.
Former Prime Minister Wilfried Martens faces a tough job trying to sort out the impasse, with little sign that the five coalition parties can agree on who should replace their outgoing leader. As instructed, Martens invited caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme and his coalition partners for a meeting at his official residence on Tuesday, but would give nothing away to journalists. Belgium’s third political breakdown in a year was prompted by a Supreme Court report on political meddling in a legal case over the rescue of the stricken Fortis bank. Analysts say the crisis is unlikely to be resolved by the end of the year. Christian Democrat Jean Luc Dehaene, a two-times Prime Minister, has emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Leterme.