Flemish nationalist asked to revive Belgian government talks

9th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Belgian King Albert II tapped Friday the head of the Flemish nationalist N-VA party to make another attempt at forming a government, giving him 10 days to try to resurrect talks, the palace said.

The king asked Bart De Wever "to undertake a 10-day clarification mission with the seven parties that had been part of the negotiations to narrow their differences" on the main points of divergence which had led the talks to collapse on Monday, the palace said in statement.

Belgium has been without a government since June elections in which the separatist N-VA came out on top in Flanders.

After an earlier round of talks led by French-speaking Socialist leader Elio di Rupo reached a dead end in early September, De Wever was charged with trying to put together a coalition.

The separatist N-VA wants the country's three regions -- Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels -- to be able to separately raise income taxes, currently a function of the federal state.

But francophones fear their Wallonia region, already less wealthy than its northern neighbour Flanders, will become poorer under such a fiscal reform and warn it could lead to the break-up of Belgium.

The rights of French speakers in the Flemish suburbs around Brussels has also long been a sore point.

Belgium, one of the EU's founding members, currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member bloc until December and Brussels hosts the headquarters of the EU and NATO.

© 2010 AFP

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