Belgium is seeking to emerge from its third political crisis in the space of a year after PM Yves Leterme stepped down yesterday in a banking scandal. His government was accused of trying to influence a court case involving the bailout of Fortis, one of the first big banks to approach collapse in the financial crisis. But finding a new leader for the deeply divided binational kingdom will be difficult, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Leterme won election in June 2007 but needed 9 months to cobble together a coalition, and his weak leadership stoked fears that the country could split in two. Speculation has grown that the king will appoint Jean-Luc Dehaene, PM from 1992 to 1999, to serve again until new elections can be held next year. The political crisis threatens to blunt Belgium's response to the financial crisis; economists say the country will slide into recession this quarter.