Belgian mediator resigns over government deadlock

Belgian mediator Johan Vande Lanotte arrives for a meeting with King Albert II at the Laeken Royal Palace in Brussels, 6 January Johan Vande Lanotte was appointed by the king

Related Stories

The mediator entrusted with ending the crisis that has left Belgium without a government for nearly seven months has tendered his resignation.

Johan Vande Lanotte, appointed by King Albert II, said he could make no further headway a day after two out of seven parties rejected his plan.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink," he said.

The king has yet to accept his resignation and is due to see him again on Monday.

A caretaker government has been running Belgium since the election.

Belgium has been under pressure to reach a deal because sovereign debt is close to 100% of gross domestic product.

The plan proposed by Mr Vande Lanotte would see a further decentralisation of power to Belgium's regions, split between the Dutch-speaking Flemish population and French-speaking Walloons.

'Utopia'

The Flemish population has been seeking more control over tax policy while Walloons want greater protection and more money for the region around the capital, Brussels.

The Flemish Christian Democrats said earlier that essential items of the plan would have to be adjusted.

The New Flemish Alliance, which made the break-up of Belgium a central manifesto pledge at the election, said it had "fundamental remarks" to make about the proposal before continuing negotiations.

But the leader of a third Flemish party accused both parties of seeking "Utopia".

"I think the parties who don't see the note [plan] as a basis for negotiations will have to run for election in a country called Utopia next time," Bruno Tuybens of the Flemish Social Democrats said on Flemish TV.

"Those who pull the plug now will have to take the responsibility."

Mr Vande Lanotte, who is also a Flemish Social Democrat, said the parties would have to agree eventually.

"One day the politicians will have to take that step in the interests of the prosperity of our country," he told reporters.

While Belgian media were already speculating about a new choice of mediator, some analysts argued that fresh elections were a distinct possibility.

"If nothing else is possible, you have to vote in a democracy," Professor Carl Devos at Ghent University told Reuters news agency.

"It is not a structural solution to the problem but sometimes things improve afterwards."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.