Belgium's fragile five-party coalition government collapsed last night after only four months in power. Yves Leterme, the prime minister, submitted his resignation to the king after failing to resolve several longstanding disputes between the French- and Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium. The fall of the Leterme government plunges the country into what Bloomberg calls the worst political crisis in its 177-year history.
Leterme won Belgium's June 2007 election, but he needed nine months to cobble together a government from parties on both sides of the country's linguistic divide. That delay led to fears that the country could break in two. While Belgium's leaders will now try once again to form a new coalition, the resignation will spark new talk about an independent Flanders.