Language-split Belgium teeters back into crisis

Belgium risked plunging into a fresh political crisis on Wednesday after attempts to form a coalition government collapsed amid allegations Flemish nationalists were not committed to keeping the country together.

Brussels: Belgium risked plunging into a fresh political crisis on Wednesday after attempts to form a coalition government collapsed amid allegations Flemish nationalists were not committed to keeping the country together.

Tough-talking Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, whose separatist N-VA party won last month`s general election, has been tasked by the king to form a coalition government.

But Centrist Benoit Lutgen refused to join the proposed coalition, saying he had failed to win assurances that De Wever would keep the language-divided nation intact.

A De Wever-led government would be "a Belgo-sceptic project," Lutgen told Belgian broadcaster RTL late Tuesday. "The wolf does not become a lamb in a few weeks."

The fear is that Belgium repeats the crisis of four years ago when a record-breaking impasse left the country 541 days without a government.

The N-VA won 32 percent of the vote in Flanders, making it the most popular party.

On Tuesday, De Wever submitted a 20-page outline for three potential coalition partners, inviting them to enter exclusive talks to form a federal government.

The road map was swiftly agreed by Flemish Christian Democrats as well as liberal French-speakers, but Lutgen`s last-minute refusal forces De Wever and the king back to the drawing board.

Under the country`s traditions, the monarch oversees the formation of new governments, guiding the country`s parties towards compromise.

The socialist and French-speaking incumbent Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, known for only wearing bow-ties, remains in office in a caretaker capacity.

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