Belgium's King Albert is seeking a new way to end the country's political crisis after the man he asked to form a coalition admitted defeat.
King Albert will have to choose who tries next to build a coalition
The king cut short a holiday to hear Flemish Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme reveal he was giving up.
The king later met francophone liberal leader Didier Reynders, but it remains unclear whether he will be asked to try to form a cabinet, correspondents say.
Mr Leterme was nominated to form a government after 10 June elections.
He and other Flemish leaders want more powers to be devolved to regional authorities.
Mr Leterme's Christian Democrats emerged as the biggest single party in June's election, but would have needed the support of several other parties to form a viable coalition.
The collapse of his coalition-building attempt was announced after his hastily-arranged meeting with the king on Thursday evening.
Yves Leterme tried for 40 days to build a cabinet
"This afternoon I realised that it was impossible to move forward with an ambitious government programme, the perspective and direction of which the electors clearly defined on 10 June," Mr Leterme said in a statement.
Flemish politicians have been increasingly vociferous in support of greater self-rule for the Dutch-speaking Flanders region.
French-speaking politicians in Wallonia have rejected the Flemish leaders' demands to devolve more powers from the federal level to the regions.
No single party bridges the linguistic and geographic gulf between Belgium's two regions.
Traditionally, the prime minister comes from one of the majority Flemish parties.