Leterme resigns regional post

26th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 June 2007, BRUSSELS (AP) - Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme, stepped down as head of the Flemish regional government on Tuesday to concentrate on forming a national coalition after coming out on top in Belgium's general elections.

26 June 2007

BRUSSELS (AP) - Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme, stepped down as head of the Flemish regional government on Tuesday to concentrate on forming a national coalition after coming out on top in Belgium's general elections.

Leterme is favorite to succeed outgoing Liberal Democrat Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and preliminary talks are centering on switching from the current Liberal-Socialist coalition to a Christian Democrat-Liberal coalition.

Leterme said he had been given a mandate by voters, who returned the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats to the national parliament with the largest number of seats in the June 10 poll. "I am going for it - full-out," he told VRT network.

"I need my hands free to work on a government agreement and a strong government," he said.

The leader of the Francophone Liberals, Didier Reynders, has given himself until the end of the month to find agreement on a new coalition and is seeking common ground between the Liberals and Christian Democrats, both split into Dutch- and French-speaking parties.

Reynders, the outgoing finance minister, has been meeting with party leaders and leading politicians. King Albert II will pick someone to form the government later.

Verhofstadt has been prime minister for eight years and said he would not seek another term. He is continuing in a caretaker capacity until a new government takes power.

Leterme's party jumped to 30 seats from 22 in the 150-seat House of Representatives. Reynders's Francophone Liberals held their own, losing one seat to fall to 23, while their Dutch-speaking sister party, Verhofstadt's Liberals, lost seven seats to fall to 18.

Reynders' party and the Christian Democrats would have no problem forging credible social and economic policies, Reynders has said.

An alliance of Liberals and Christian Democrats would have more than half of the 150 parliamentary seats.

The major difficulty will be to reconcile the linguistic problems between the Dutch-speaking parties, which represent 6 million Flemings in the north, and the Francophone parties and the 4.5 million French-speakers in the south. Because of that, the coalition process could take several months, observers said.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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