Divided French and Dutch speaking parties gathered in Brussels on Tuesday in a fresh bid to forge a new Belgian government. It is now more than 450 days since Belgium had a fully functioning administration; the country passed that unenviable milestone on Monday. Despite 15 months of deadlock – a world record – it is hoped the latest round of talks will finally break through the impasse.
Reporting from Brussels, euronews’ Gulsum Alan said: ‘‘Some believe a deal can be reached if the Liberals and Christian Democrats want it badly enough. The alternative could be elections. If they were held polls show the Flemish separatist N-VA would increase their share of the vote by 10 percent.’‘
Longstanding linguistic and cultural divisions lie at the heart of the political stalemate, however the most acute problem is the future of Brussels. French speaking parties oppose plans to break up the city’s current electoral boundaries, a key demand of their Flemish counterparts.
Speaking about the latest talks, Francophone politician Francois Van Hoobrouck said: “I’m not very optimistic. The only possibility would be for the French speaking parties to make concessions. A majority of two thirds is necessary, consequently a large number of parties.”
Belgium’s socialist leader Elio Di Rupo is the man currently charged with trying to strike a deal. He has had 10 predecessors since the elections in 2010.