Belgium makes final attempt to end political crisis – Belgian ex-MP

As the King of Belgium appointed the head of the Socialist Party to form a new government and end the 337-day stalemate, former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament Lode Vanoost says it’s Belgium’s last chance to escape the political crisis.

­King Albert II on Monday asked Elio Di Rupo, the leader of Belgium’s socialists, to form a government in the country, which has already entered the Guinness Book of Records for “the longest period a country has run without a government in peacetime.”

"Mr Di Rupo has been commissioned to form a new government and to undertake any initiative he regards necessary," the statement from the palace said, as cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

Di Rupo's party won the votes of the French-speaking south at the general elections on June 13, 2010, gaining 26 seats in the Belgian parliament. However, the party failed to secure an outright majority, as the other prominent winner at that election, the separatist Flemish N-VA Party, headed by Bart De Wever, took 27 seats.

A workable coalition in parliament has not been possible since the election. In the meantime, the European country that hosts the key international institutions, the European Union and NATO, has been run by a caretaker government.

The head of the Dutch-speaking NV-A Party said investing in the poorer south was "an injection like a drug for a junkie."

Lode Vanoost, a former Deputy Speaker of the Belgian Parliament, finds this kind of description “totally appalling.”

For the last ten years the Walloon economy, though it still has some way to go, has been recovering. And some people on the Flemish side do not like it. They know they will not get secession by democratic ways. They are trying to get it by prolonging the crisis and then they will use it as proof – ‘See, we cannot work together anymore’,” says Vanoost.

Talking about the reasons for the crisis, Vanoost says that, besides the surge in secessionist feeling in the country, the new Flemish alliance, which is now the biggest Flemish party, barely existed eight years ago. Only one member of their group in the current parliament is on his second mandate. The alliance hardly has any experience.

This time is really the last attempt,” believes Vanoost. “If they can manage to form the government by the end of the summer-beginning of September, it is ok. But if they do not, we are facing new elections in November. And this is really bad for the international image of the country. This is bad for the European Union.