PM-Elect Quits As Belgian Crisis Deepens

Kingdom edges nearer to split as Leterme walks out
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2007 2:36 PM CST
A rally in favor of Belgian unity in Brussels belies growing separatist sentiment throughout Flanders.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Belgians awoke today to a fresh political crisis: last night Yves Leterme, the putative PM-elect of last summer's inconclusive elections, abandoned his attempts to form a coalition. Leterme submitted his resignation to the king after an ultimatum issued to other party leaders fell on deaf ears, the Observer reports, and the deadlock continues nearly six months after Belgians went to the polls.

At the heart of the long-running dispute is the extent of further devolved powers to Flanders, which French speakers continue to oppose. King Albert accepted Leterme's resignation but remained silent on whom—if anyone—he would invite to try to form a new government. So far no credible alternative to Leterme has come forward, stoking fears that the binational kingdom might split.