Breakthrough in Belgian party talks

2011-09-15 14:19
Brussels - Dutch-speaking and Francophone parties reached a major breakthrough on Thursday in negotiations to form a new government a record 15 months after elections.

The eight parties announced they reached a deal on the breakup of an electoral district in and around bilingual Brussels, an issue that had vexed politicians for almost half a century and was at the heart of the record-length standoff between the linguistic groups as they sought to reform the constitution.

The parties said in a statement that the negotiations on other issues such as economic and social policy will continue later on Thursday.

"Our work is far from over, and we still need a lot of negotiations," said the joint statement.

Still, after a 459-day government stalemate, already considered by far a world record, news of the breakthrough was lauded in the local media as historic.

"We have crossed a difficult bridge," said Joelle Milquet, the head of the Francophone Cdh party.

Over the past months, politicians increasingly started worrying about the pressure of financial markets doubtful about the long-term future of the country.

Drastic action needed

Caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme took as many social and economic decisions as his remit allowed but negotiators realised drastic action had to be taken, especially after Leterme announced early this week he would leave his post at the end of the year at the latest.

The June 13 2010 elections brought the Dutch-speaking separatist N-VA party to the fore, and at first it was including in the protracted negotiations.

But when no compromise could be found, the traditional parties which have dominated Belgian politics for years decided to try it on their own in July.

The insistence on more self-rule in northern Belgium for its six million Dutch-speaking Flemings was always central in negotiations. The parties representing the five million Francophones living in southern Wallonia and Brussels sought to maintain an institutional status quo.

The negotiators stressed however, many hurdles still needed to be cleared until a new government takes office.

"Every party can still endanger everything," said Wouter Beke, the head of the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats.
Read more on:    belgium

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.