Feuding Belgian parties strike key reform deal

8th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Belgium's feuding Flemish and French-speaking politicians agreed Saturday on an institutional reform aimed at ending a crisis that has left the country without a government for a year and a half.

Charles Michel, head of the French-speaking Reformist Movement described the institutional reform, which devolves more power to the regions, as "the most significant since World War II".

Belgium has been without a cabinet for a world-record 482 days but the country's rival Flemish and Walloons still have to agree on a common government platform.

That could yet prove difficult since the divide negotiators need to bridge is no longer simply linguistic but increasingly political, with Flanders leaning heavily to the right and Wallonia to the left.

The latest deal on devolution was seen as essential to any progress in the Belgian crisis.

"Dialogue eventually won the day over cynicism," said Wouter Van Besien, the head of the Flemish Green party.

The eight parties taking part in the two-month negotiations on devolution had reach a deal on some of the key points last month and have now ironed out their differences on the remaining issues.

They are expected to clean up the document on Monday, in time for the agreement to be presented to parliament the following day.

© 2011 AFP

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