Belgium close to governing coalition after 535-day crisis
Political parties in Belgium, which has been without a government for 535 days, agreed Wednesday on the blueprint of a ruling coalition to be headed by French-speaking Socialist Elio Di Rupo.
“There is a global agreement, on the reform of the state, socio-economic questions and a government platform,” a source close to the negotiations told AFP.
Di Rupo headed out of the talks with a smile, but refused comment after days of trying to hammer out a deal between six parties split by political leanings as well as by the country’s widening language divide.
The source said further details on the more than 180-page governing agreement would be released Thursday, with a cabinet expected to be lined up at the weekend and a government sworn in next week.
Di Rupo, 60, will be Belgium’s first French-speaking prime minister in three decades and one of the few centre-left voices in a European Union dominated by conservative leaders.
With the debt crisis spreading across the eurozone like wildfire, bickering politicians put their quarrels aside, driven by a new sense of urgency, when Belgium’s borrowing costs soared last week and ratings giant Standard & Poor’s cut its credit score.
The world-record political deadlock had also raised fears the country was headed for a messy split, separating the wealthier Flemish region in the north, which has 60 percent of the 10.5 million population, from French-speaking southern Wallonia.