Belgium’s Dutch and French-speaking members of parliament have returned to work to debate how a new government might be formed, four months after the general election.
This comes after Flemish N-VA party leader Bart De Wever on Monday declared talks to form a coalition dead. The stakes are high, about possibly splitting up the country. Many in the Flemish north want this, but the poorer Walloon south looks at it with dread.
Political editor with Flemish community public broadcaster VRT Ivan De Vadder told euronews: “On the French-speaking side, the socialists are convinced that we have to stay united in Belgium. That’s the crux of the debate between the two sides. They believe this would permit more efficiency. The N-VA on the Flemish side believes just the opposite.”
With newspaper La Libre Belgique Francis Van de Woestyne said: “The big question is in the N-VA’s hands. Bart De Wever has been named the ‘clarifier’. Before anything else, he has to make his own position clear, whether he wants to go on living in a federal state called Belgium, with Brussels as its capital, ensuring the peaceful coexistence between the three [Flemish, Walloon and Brussels] regions.”
On Friday, Belgium’s King Albert asked De Wever to carry out a “clarification mission”, to find common ground among seven parties on divisive issues like a possible transfer of powers.
Belgium needs a government to rein in a debt-to-income ratio that is the third highest in Europe.