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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 10:20 GMT
Nine-month crisis over in Belgium
Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme (AFP 13 March 2008)
Mr Leterme failed to secure a deal on increased devolution
The political deadlock that threatened to split Belgium in two has ended with a coalition deal under Christian Democrat Yves Leterme.

After a night of negotiations, five Dutch- and French-speaking parties agreed to form a government.

Mr Leterme's Flemish party won elections in June 2007 but was unable to reach agreement on a coalition.

Six months later, an interim government stepped in, led by caretaker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

Mr Leterme will present his government to King Albert II at the royal palace on Thursday.

Although no party straddles the divide between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia, the new coalition will include socialists and liberals as well as Christian Democrats.

"It's a good deal for a government with balanced measures," the Christian Democrat leader told Belgian radio.

Yves Leterme's initial efforts to form a coalition had foundered because he failed to persuade the French-speaking parties to accept a devolution of power to the regions.

The new government agenda which is still to be approved leaves out references to constitutional reform, concentrating instead on immigration, tax-cuts and pension benefits.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Belgium's leaders announce their coalition



SEE ALSO
Nation or state?
07 Dec 07 |  Magazine
Country profile: Belgium
19 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Viewpoints: Belgian crisis
17 Sep 07 |  Europe

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