Skip to comments.Collapse of Belgian coalition talks deepens national crisis
Posted on 12/01/2007 8:43:34 PM PST by ConservativeJen
BRUSSELS (AFP) - The head of Belgium's Flemish Christian Democrats on Saturday abandoned efforts to form a coalition government, after more than five months of fruitless talks, plunging the country further into crisis.
Yves Leterme announced his decision to Belgian King Albert II after the two Dutch-speaking Flemish and two francophone parties involved in talks failed to bridge their differences over devolving more power to the regions.
His move, swiftly accepted by the king, deepens the political crisis in the country where some are even talking of a possible split between the richer Flemish majority to the north and the poorer French Wallonia region to the south.
"The last weeks and months I have done all I can to bring this task to a successful conclusion," Leterme said in the parliament building after throwing in the towel.
"Unfortunately that has not been possible. Our country needs a stable government and reforms that will permit it to tackle its problems head on, as well as improving the functioning of our institutions".
He added that he had been aware, when he had first accepted the task of forming a government "that I was taking a political as well as a personal risk".
He remained available to work towards a solution to the political impasse, he said.
The deadlocked coalition talks have meant Belgium has so far spent 174 days without a new national government.
The heart of the problem is that the Flemish majority wants more power for its own region, a move the Walloons fear would mean they lost out politically and financially.
Leterme, whose Flemish party came out on top in Belgium's general election on June 10, could not bring the parties together. So he decided to abandon his attempt to become prime minister at the head of a Christian democrat-liberal coalition.
In a short statement the royal palace announced that King Albert "had an audience in the early afternoon with Mr. Yves Leterme. Mr. Leterme asked to be discharged of his mission. The king has accepted his request."
The move came after Leterme issued an ultimatum to the four parties to agree to three key points by Saturday morning
When one of the francophone parties refused to endorse his proposals on state reform, that proved the last straw for Leterme.
"It's not just a government crisis, it's a national crisis affecting the states' structure, and who can say, its very existence, " one francophone MP said.
So far no credible alternative to Leterme has been identified to succeed current Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose administration continues to run the country despite losing the June election
Thus Leterme's departure would hurl the country will only stoke existing fears, and hopes in some quarters, that the country could eventually split in two.
A spokesman for the far-right Vlaams Belang party, which was not involved in the coalition talks, said Leterme's failure to form a government demonstrated that a federal administration was no longer possible.
"I think this has proven that you can't form a government that represents the interests of both the north and south of the country.
"You don't need to be a separatist to realise that," said party spokesman Yoris Vanhaudhem.
The nationalist party was calling for a government to be formed to deal with day-to-day running of the country "while talks take place about preparing to divide the country," he added.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
About the only thing I know about Belgians is they make really fine guns.
A reliable source: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/
thanks, that looks like a good site!
As long as the chocolates and moules et pomme frites are OK, then I’m not too worried.
From an American who has lived and worked in Belgium, I am thrilled by the prospect of a division of the country. The Francophone South is totally corrupt, welfare-dependent, Muslim-infested, and unproductive. The Flemish North is highly productive, affluent, conservative, anti-Muslim and pro-American. I pray that Belgium splits in two, and soon.
I can't quite say "forget the Walloons" (the French element), because I've met good people there. But I like the Flemish (Vlaams), the drivers in this country.
But from what I have seen, the "experiment" is not working.
Who will dare ask Senator Clinton and French President Sarkozy if they will recognize an independent Flanders as fast as they claim they will recognize an independent Kosovo?
The Belgians that I met in Ghent were deeply scornful of anyone who tried to speak French to them.
“Do you speak dutch?” was a common question to me, and I found the happy compromise was to speak German or English.
As far as why Belgium getting the prize of NATO, they would say that it was because of Belgium's studied neutrality in past events, but I suspect that it is simply because they are essentially powerless.
Their armed forces are a union controlled joke.
“but I suspect that it is simply because they are essentially powerless.”
The same reason they got the capital of the EU located in their own as well. Studied neutrality is a euphemism for their geographic location and importance as a gateway in 2 world wars.
The penalty for DUI was losing your drivers license for 6 hours!
The University in Leuven is a prime example of the dispute between the French and the Flemish. The split it down the middle, faculty, students, and even the university library where the Flemish took all even numbered books and the French took all the odd numbered books. Best thing I found was that all graduate classes were in English.
I was amazed at the number of Islamic women wearing burkas with a dozen children in tow, even in Brussels. All in all, it’s a great country.
“The best part is the worlds best beers...by far. Ive been to many beer festivals there and no other country comes close in quality, diversity, and quantity”
Have been there several times specifically for that reason, (even visited the 3 fonteinen cafe in beersel!, but not cantillon :( It absolutely is the beer capital of the world. I suspect Michael Jackson has had a small but notable incremental impact on belgian gdp over the last couple of decades.
That said, in the last 5 years the americans have grown so much in diversity and quality of beers produced that, excluding lambics and flemish reds, if offered a dream basket of either american or belgian products, I would now take american. (or maybe not, thinking of Fantome products, abbaye de rocs, sigh so much beer and so little time)
(having thought so much about beer, the poster now goes to his fridge to see what is in it...)