Belgium's king wants 'urgent' government deal

16th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

King Albert II begged Belgium's squabbling politicians Wednesday for an "urgent" coalition deal as the eurozone nation hits 521 days without a government.

"The king underlines once again the urgent need to reach an agreement to form a government and thus defend the future well-being of all citizens," a palace statement said.

The plea comes as Belgium stands in the firing line of markets due to its record-breaking political crisis and talks among six parties that agreed to form a coalition almost four months ago snag over a future budget.

Caretaker premier Yves Leterme and the European Commission have repeatedly called for a deal on a future budget that would bring the public deficit below three percent of GDP by 2012 -- rather than the 4.6 percent forecast failing action.

But the six parties from across the political spectrum ready to line up behind Socialist leader Elio Di Rupo in a new government are widely divided over how to trim 11.3 billion euros off the deficit next year and some 20 billion in all by 2015.

Centrist parties want Di Rupo to pledge more cuts off social welfare benefits and state spending rather than raising taxes.

© 2011 AFP

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