Correspondent's Choice

This story about the collapse of the Belgian government was published by EurActiv on 27th April 2010.

Belgian King Albert II accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s five-month-old government yesterday (26 April), plunging the country into a crisis as it prepares to assume the rotating presidency of the EU.

The monarch asked Leterme, 49, to stay on in a caretaker capacity, the palace said in a short statement four days after the coalition collapsed over a standoff between Dutch- and French-speaking parties.

The king had tried to defuse the situation over the weekend, consulting with party leaders and asking Finance Minister Didier Reynders, a French speaker, to try to mediate and break the impasse over a dispute between French and Flemish speakers over language and political rights. Reynders asked to be discharged on Monday.

Unless the king comes up with a new initiative, Belgium appears headed for an early election before the next scheduled one in 2011.

That could throw into chaos Belgium’s preparations for its six-month presidency of the European Union, due to start in July.

Leterme, who has now stepped down twice in three years, said in a written statement that he regretted a negotiated solution had not been found.

“While waiting for initiatives from the head of state, the government will continue to ensure effective monitoring of current affairs in the interest of the country and citizens,” the statement said.

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