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King not to be demoted

Published on 16/03/2007

16 March 2007

BRUSSELS – Flemish minister-president Yves Leterme (CD&V) talked to Le Soir on Thursday. He said in the interview that he has no desire to limit the role of the monarchy.

On 2 May the houses of Parliament will be dissolved with a declaration of revision to the constitution. The majority parties will decide by the end of March which articles “are in need of revision.”

The Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) is going to itself submit a proposal for declaring a constitutional revision and will vote for its proposal, Yves Leterme said on Thursday. In the same breath he added that the CD&V does not have any plans to tamper with the role of the monarchy at this point.

Leterme denied that this decision was influenced by the fact that a large part of his party’s following is pro-monarchy. He said he just didn’t think such a move would benefit efficiency in any way at this point. He does think a debate on revising the royal endowment would be a good idea, as long as the discussion does not get out of hand.

After several incidents recently, including unfortunate statements from Prince Philip, who wanted to deny several journalists access to the royal palace, some have been calling for the monarch to be demoted to a purely ceremonial role after the federal elections on 10 June.

“If Prince Philip does not immediately realise that the constitutional monarchy in this country does not work that way, we will be closer to a discussion on a ceremonial role for the king,” Socialist party SP.A leader Johan Vande Lanotte said at the time. The Flemish nationalists N-VA, ally of the CD& V, has also wanted the monarchy’s powers diminished for some time now.

Without explicitly announcing his candidacy, Yves Leterme said he would “of course” like to be prime minister, because the reform of the state is being decided on the federal level, he said.

The CD&V’s three top priorities at the federal level are fighting poverty and unemployment, bringing order to the tax authority, and improving the functioning of the justice department.

Leterme insisted that state reform is inevitable for the Walloon region. He said Bergen was a “capital of unemployment.” “26 percent unemployment is a catastrophe for people.”

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news