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Belgian elections likely on June 13 after coalition collapse

Belgium’s general election after the collapse of the ruling coalition is likely to take place on June 13, after ministers passed a text on Monday setting up the date.

Going to the polls on June 13 gives Belgium a chance of forming a new government before it takes over the rotating EU presidency on July 1.

Ministers from the coalition which collapsed last month after a Flemish Christian Democrat party quit, finalised the constitutional paperwork, Prime Minister Yves Leterme said in a statement.

“The declaration will be transmitted to the chamber (of deputies) and the senate,” Leterme said.

Their approval is expected to be done by Thursday and that will trigger a 40-day countdown to the election date, historically a Sunday, pointing to voting on June 13.

If the parliamentary procedure slips, the election would be knocked back to June 20, leading to caretaker representation — or even head of state, King Albert II, attending a European Union summit in Brussels on June 17 and 18.

Leterme’s government crumbled after the Open VLD party walked out in protest at the lack of progress in negotiations over the rights of French residents in Dutch-speaking Flanders.

The linguistic faultline is a constant problem for whatever coalition is formed in a country where there are no national political parties.

Having a new coalition up and running by the end of June is not assured. It took nine months to form a government after the last general election in 2007.