Belgian press fears 'paralysis' after government fall
Belgian newspapers on Tuesday warned that their country was in danger of falling apart after the government's resignation and with divisive elections looming.
"Total paralysis," said French-language daily Le Soir, adjudging Belgium to have hit an "impasse" with the collapse of Yves Leterme's premiership for the second time on Monday.
"Tomorrow chaos?" the French-language Ver L'Avenir newspaper asked and "Help! They're going to end up killing Belgium," said French-language tabloid La Nouvelle Gazette.
La Derniere Heure said that ego had created an "attitude that is going to lead the country down the path to ruin, and make it even more ridiculous on the eve of taking the EU's presidency."
Belgium takes up the European Union's chair on July 1, with elections likely just weeks beforehand.
Best-selling Flemish newspaper Het Laatse Nieuws said "the country is on the edge of the abyss," while the influential Flemish daily De Standaard said Belgium "is heading into the unknown with early elections."
It said nationalist formations could seize the upper hand and render coalition-building even more difficult than over the past few years of instability, which have twice already in 2007 and 2008 seen the country plunged into political crisis.
The newspapers also expressed fears that the political crisis could render the country even more vulnerable to economic woes.
"Belgium is now the most fragile state in northern Europe," said the business daily l'Echo. "Obviously politically. But also in financial terms," the paper said, recalling that Belgian banks were among the first to fall during the financial crisis of 2008-9.
"When the banks fell, they were propped up by states. But behind states, there is no-one else," it warned.
Le Soir also warned that speculators could target a broken Belgium the way they have debt-stricken Greece, saying the fall of the government could put Belgium at such financial risk that "markets could prove unforgiving."
© 2010 AFP