Belgium back in crisis
Coalition mediator quits :
BELGIUM: Belgium plunged back into political crisis on Saturday as
the politician trying to broker formation of a Government quit, five
months after an election.
King Albert accepted the resignation of French-speaking Socialist
leader Elio Di Rupo, the second mediator who has failed to bridge the
divide between French and Dutch speaking parties that besets Belgian
Di Rupo’s failure brings closer the possibility of a fresh election
to try to produce a viable coalition government.
The perennial failures of governments that must represent both sides
of the linguistic divide mean that Belgium has learned to live with
power vacuums at the centre. But its national debt is as large as its
annual economic output, and it can ill afford political paralysis at a
time when financial markets are on the look-out for budgetary laggards.
The king’s next step was to ask one representative of each community —
the Francophone speaker of the lower house of parliament, Andre Flahaut
of the Socialist Party, and the speaker of the Senate, Danny Pieters of
the Flemish separatist party N-VA — to mediate to restart the talks.
“The king ... charged the speakers of the lower house and the senate
with the mission of mediation of restarting negotiations to form a
government,” the palace said in a statement.
While Dutch-speaking parties are pushing for more powers for their
region, Flanders, the French speakers fear that their region, which is
poorer, will lose out, and that the process will eventually lead to
Belgium breaking up.
The previous coalition collapsed when the two linguistic communities
could not settle an electoral dispute over the region around the
capital, Brussels. Brussels, Sunday, Reuters