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Old 08-18-2007, 07:07 PM
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King Albert II Forming a New Goverment, 2007-2011

The King broke of his holidays in France and returned to Brussels. He will negociate between the parties that will from the new gouverment as they can not reach an agreement. The parties are having major disagreements about even greater autonomy of Flanders.

Belgian Government Talks Suspended; King Albert II to Intervene

By Andrew Clapham
Aug. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Talks in Belgium to form the country's new coalition government were temporarily suspended after politicians failed to reach agreement over state reform.
King Albert II will now consult with the various party leaders on the talks.
``The absence of a consensus threatens the prosperity and the well-being of the population as well as the smooth functioning of the institutions,'' Yves Leterme, the leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats charged with forming the new government, told journalists in Brussels today.

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Old 08-20-2007, 03:47 AM
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The King didn´t succeed in bringing the quarreling paries together. He has requested Yves Leterme (leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats) to look for other partners to form a gouverment with.
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Old 08-20-2007, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Marengo View Post
The King didn´t succeed in bringing the quarreling paries together. He has requested Yves Leterme (leader of the Flemish Christian Democrats) to look for other partners to form a gouverment with.
He isn't the brightest light around,that Leterme guy,singing the marseillaise instead of the Brabançonne is one thing.The lack of flexibility and an overdose of unfounded political greed is another.All in all they behave like spoilt rotten quarelling kids.HM must be embarrassed.The poor man.
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:29 AM
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And the King can not enjoy his holidays in France, as Yves Leterme will be handing back his task of forming a goverment to the King:

Yves Leterme heads for the King

Thu 23/08/07 - Leaders of Belgium's Christian democrat and liberal parties talked deep into the night with PM designate Yves Leterme. They failed to reach any agreement on the way ahead plunging the country into a new political crisis. Over two months after the general election there is little prospect of a new Federal Government.

Read the entire article from flandersnews.be here.
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:30 AM
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Mr Leterme throws in the towel

Fri 24/08/07 - Yves Leterme, the Flemish Christian democrat politician charged with forming a new Federal Government, has thrown in the towel.

Mr Leterme asked King Albert of the Belgians to relieve him of the task he was entrusted with in mid July on Thursday evening.

Read more of this article here.

--

And from Earthtimes:

King seeks way out of political crisis in Belgium

Brussels - King Albert II was attempting to resolve the political crisis in Belgium where two and a half months after the election the largest political party has been unable to form a coalition, reports said Friday. Yves Leterme, head of the Flemish Christian Democrats, asked to be absolved of responsibility for forming a government Thursday after last-minute crisis talks with his possible Liberal coalition partners failed.

King Albert II must now appoint somebody new to lead the negotiations on forming a government.

Read the entire article here.

---

From Euronews:

Belgium in turmoil as coalition talks collapse

Belgium's political crisis has taken a new turn with the resignation of the prime minister-in-waiting. Yves Leterme quit after failing to win coalition partners for his Flemish Christian Democrats. The party made big gains in June's general election. But negotiations with other parties have floundered on cultural and linguistic differences

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Old 08-24-2007, 12:03 PM
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And even more at expatica:

Belgium struggles with political crisis

24 August 2007
BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgium was mired in a political crisis on Friday after Flemish leader Yves Leterme gave up efforts to form a government with francophone partners who reject his plans for constitutional reform.
King Albert II rushed back from holiday in the south of France on Thursday to accept Christian Democrat leader Leterme's resignation as prime minister-in-waiting.

Read the entire article here.
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:31 PM
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Sad picture

King Albert II of the Belgians arrives at the Château du Belvédère (his private residence) where he is yelled by separatists wishing Flemish independence and the break-up of Belgium.

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Old 08-24-2007, 07:40 PM
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I have to admit that I know very little about King Albert's actual political power, but I assume it is roughly the same as the monarchs in the rest of Europe (with a few differences here and there, of course.)

How would he go about finding someone else to form a government? The party that came second in the election, would they be asked? Judging by articles, it doesn't sound like a position wanted by many at the moment.
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Old 08-25-2007, 05:25 AM
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I have no idea actually who he will ask next. I don´t think it is very likely that any other party then Leterme´s Flemish Christian Democrats will have to take the lead in this after all. My own Dutch newspaper had a long article about the present state of crisis and they remarked that maybe this crisis is exactly what is needed for the parties to make consessions without losing voters, as voters can see it is in the national (or federal? ) interest.

I think the role of the Belgian King is almost simular to that of the Dutch Queen. They both play a simular role when a goverment is formed. Though in practise the power is rather limited as the King can not go against advices of political parties etc. Theoretically he can but I think that would be almost the same as signing the death warrant for the monarchy.
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Old 08-25-2007, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by norwegianne View Post
I have to admit that I know very little about King Albert's actual political power, but I assume it is roughly the same as the monarchs in the rest of Europe (with a few differences here and there, of course.)
No, there are not so small differences. The King of Sweden is factually stripped from every political influence. The position of the Queen of Denmark is exceptionally de-politicized.

In the Netherlands the Queen has formally a more outspoken position as she herself is an integral part of Government. She herself is IN the Government ('The Government comprises of The King and the ministers' so says the Constitution). A second cornerstone of the Dutch Queen's influence is having the presidency of the Council of State. An old (since 1531) Council which advises the Dutch government and parliament on legislation and governance and is the country’s highest administrative court.

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg has a comparable position as his Dutch colleague. This because the Constitution of Luxembourg is a derivate from the Netherlands Constitution, since it was part of the Kingdom until 1890, when the Throne of Luxembourg went not to Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau but to Adolf of Nassau. Of course there are differences, but all by all the 'design' of the State is roughly the same.

The King of the Belgians was the first with a 'modern' position. This because in 1830 the Southern Netherlands rebelled against the Northern Netherlands and founded its own State, today's Belgium. To prevent a powerful King reigning à la the Dutch King, they made a new and modern Constitution in which the power and influence of the King was drastically limited, giving it to the Parliament. But due to the extremely complicated situation in Belgium, sometimes politicians got struck in a Gordian Knot and then The King can have a more pronounced role, like in these days. This is not without danger because where Queen Beatrix can operate in an united and undisputed country, with a Government always having a reliable backing in the States-General, The King of the Belgians is in a political minefield: he kan never do it right.

Because the gap between Flanders and Wallonia is even visible inside political parties: the Flemish Christian-Democrat leader Yves Leterme crashes hard with the Wallonian Christian-Democrat leader Joëlle Milquet. The second biggest party in Flanders is the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) which only wants one thing: a break up of Belgium and independence for Flanders. They do not recognize The King, which they, full of vitriol, always name 'Mr. Coburg'.

The position of the King of Spain is, formally, very limited. But thanks to The King's long Reign, and his decisive role in the transformation from Franco to democratizaton, he has gained a lot of personal influence. This influence will considerably disappear when his son Felipe will succeed him. Felipe does not have the intrinsic weight his father has.

In Japan and in the United Kingdom the position of The Emperor respectively The Queen is very strong. But both are very de-politicized. The first one by the post-WWII Constitution and the other due to the elective system in Britain causing one party having the absolute majority and the evoluing of the Prime Minister into a more presidential role, leaving the 'ornamental' Queen.
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Old 08-25-2007, 06:30 AM
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I have no idea actually who he will ask next. I don´t think it is very likely that any other party then Leterme´s Flemish Christian Democrats will have to take the lead in this after all. My own Dutch newspaper had a long article about the present state of crisis and they remarked that maybe this crisis is exactly what is needed for the parties to make consessions without losing voters, as voters can see it is in the national (or federal? ) interest.
Perhaps a rather simplistic comparison, but I'm reminded of King Haakon of Norway, brother of Albert's grandmother Princess Ingeborg of Swden, who was in a rather similar situation in 1927. After the election he asked one of the parties, Bondepartiet, who had a good result to form a coalition government. But because of problems with another big party, Venstre, who couldn't make the concessions necessary, this fell through. People expected him to then turn to Venstre to ask them to form a new government, but instead he, after discussions with the presidents of the parliament, turned to the fairly radical choice, Arbeiderpartiet, that no one had expected a king to choose because of their views on the monarchy, instead. This government didn't last long (18 days) but it showed how the monarch could work in the system. Given that Norway as a sovereign state at the time was fairly young, it was a difficult position when poltical crises came along.



Have I understood the ending of this article correctly, about the current crisis, when it talks about how this (current history of Belgium) cannot be written with one side against the other side, as that would lead to an explosion, and cannot be written with one side without the participation of the other, as that would lead to Belgium's demise. And at the moment one cannot write them together?

http://www.lalibre.be/article.phtml?...&art_id=366043
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Old 08-25-2007, 06:35 AM
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[FONT=Georgia]The King of the Belgians was the first with a 'modern' position. This because in 1830 the Southern Netherlands rebelled against the Northern Netherlands and founded its own State, today's Belgium. To prevent a powerful King reigning à la the Dutch King, they made a new and modern Constitution in which the power and influence of the King was drastically limited, giving it to the Parliament. But due to the extremely complicated situation in Belgium, sometimes politicians got struck in a Gordian Knot and then The King can have a more pronounced role, like in these days. This is not without danger because where Queen Beatrix can operate in an united and undisputed country, with a Government always having a reliable backing in the States-General, The King of the Belgians is in a political minefield: he kan never do it right.

Because the gap between Flanders and Wallonia is even visible inside political parties: the Flemish Christian-Democrat leader Yves Leterme crashes hard with the Wallonian Christian-Democrat leader Joëlle Milquet. The second biggest party in Flanders is the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) which only wants one thing: a break up of Belgium and independence for Flanders. They do not recognize The King, which they, full of vitriol, always name 'Mr. Coburg'.
Thank you for the quick lesson in the Belgian politics, Henri. I was fully aware of the other countries and their differences, but somehow the power of the King of the Belgians in relation to elections isn't something that that features much in the news here.
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:14 PM
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And more information at flandersnews.be:

Who shall rid me of this stalemate?

Sat 25/08/07 - King Albert is continuing his consultations intended to resolve the political crisis. A month and a half after the 10 June general election Belgium is still without a new Federal Government.

On Friday Yves Leterme, the Flemish Christian democrat charged with forming a new Christian democrat/liberal coalition, told the king he could not reach an agreement.



Read the entire article here.
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Old 08-25-2007, 04:50 PM
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Sharp attack by the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest)

The Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), the second biggest party in Flanders and representing between 20-30% of the Flemish electorate has criticized The King. Not that this is something new anyway: "Throw those Coburgs out!" is a repeating theme in that party.

The Party criticized The King for keeping himself deaf to a substantial part of the electorate. An excerpt from their critic:

"Mr. Coburg, the unelected Belgian King, however, has real political power. After an election it is customary for the King to invite the leaders of the various political parties, especially the winning parties, to consult them about their views for a future government.
In Belgium, the King is entitled to appoint a “formateur.” The latter is the person who has to form a new government coalition and who will become the coalition’s leader, i.e. the new Premier Minister. Hence, by appointing a formateur the King can express a preference for a future Premier Minister.
Although the Vlaams Belang (VB) was one of the parties to win in last June’s elections, Albert II refused to invite the VB leaders over to the royal palace. Indeed, the King invited the leaders of all the parties, however small and insignificant, except the VB.
By publicly insulting the party and its voters mr. Coburg showed his disrespect for a significant number of those who have to finance his family’s annual income of over 10 million euros. Hence, it is only reasonable that VB voters should no longer pay taxes to foot the Coburg's bills. Consequently, the VB will propose a bill to cut the royal stipend."
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Old 08-25-2007, 07:03 PM
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Isn' t Flemish Belang getting less popular in Flanders lately? They lost votes in Antwerp, their traditional stronghold, during the last elections.

The king is now an easy target for groups like this, as right now it certainly shows that he is one of the things that still binds Flanders and Wallonia together.
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Old 08-25-2007, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Marengo View Post
Isn' t Flemish Belang getting less popular in Flanders lately? They lost votes in Antwerp, their traditional stronghold, during the last elections.

The king is now an easy target for groups like this, as right now it certainly shows that he is one of the things that still binds Flanders and Wallonia together.
They did lost a few % in Antwerp but gained a lot of % in other Flemish cities. A fact which was conveniently ignored by the Belgian media. The Party remained the biggest in the Flemish Parliament with 30 seats.

In the National Parliament Vlaams Belang gained more % of the votes but lost 1 seat thanks to the complicated system of 'kieskringen' (election areas). The competing rightwing party Lijst Dedecker did gain seats in the election areas in West Flanders, their homebase (Ostend), at the cost of Vlaams Belang.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:55 AM
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And the crisis continues, from expatica:

King calls ministers of state

27 August 2007
BRUSSELS – The king is not appointing a new mediator/informateur at the moment to sort out the deadlocked government formation talks. The palace announced just after 11 am today that Albert will be calling in the help of "a number of ministers of state that have particular experience with the difficulties in Belgium."

Read the entire article here.
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Old 08-27-2007, 03:55 PM
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A rather critical column by Filip van Laenen:

Surreal Belgium: Country in Crisis, King on Holiday

From the desk of Filip van Laenen on Thu, 2007-08-23 23:10
Believe it or not: Belgium has been in crisis for about two months now, a crisis which peaked last week-end when King Albert II himself had to intermediate between the parties and which became even worse last night after a difficult meeting that lasted until 4.30 AM. In the meantime, newspapers and websites are organizing polls about whether Flanders should become independent or reunite with the Netherlands. So where do you think the King is while all this is happening? In his palace in Laken, listening to the radio every hour or checking the news bulletins on the television? Nope, he's having a vacation in the South of France. Ceci n'est pas un roi


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Old 08-27-2007, 05:32 PM
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Posted by Eric vdV on the Benelux Royals MB:

Quote:

One of the ministers of state, Jean-Luc Dehaene, our previous Prime Minister, was angry when he left the castle of Belvédère where he had a meeting with the King, being photographed a document he had on his lap in close-up, so that everyone could read it. He was shocked and declared that we are not living in Russia and having driven in blinded cars.
If you are really curious and understanding Dutch, click on the marked sentence: "klik hier voor een grotere versie"

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Old 08-28-2007, 09:35 AM
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There might be light at the end of the tunnel, from expatica:

Quote:
Leterme optimistic about coalition

28 August 2007
BRUSSELS – The memo photographed on Jean-Luc Dehaene's lap on Monday was indeed a document containing proposals from the Flemish Christian Democracts CD&V. Appointed formateur Yves Leterme confirmed this during an interview at the West Flemish regional broadcasters Focus/WTV. Leterme remains optimistic about the formation of a new government. He believes this can be achieved in a few weeks' time.
Leterme talked about his period as formateur during the interview. "Five weeks of negotiating, often 16 hours a day, was exhausting. And still there were only two nights that I was unable to sleep," Leterme says.
Read the complete article here.

I was wondering btw what the Belgian press is writing about the role of King Albert II? Are they positive, apart from that some critisized the King for not returning quickly enough?
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