Friday, December 19, 2008

Belgium’s government collapsed on Friday after a top court found signs that it had sought to sway a legal ruling on the future of stricken bank Fortis.

“(Belgian Prime Minister Yves) Leterme put the (resignation) proposal to the cabinet and they have agreed to it,” Leterme’s spokesman Peter Poulussen said by telephone.

Under the constitution, King Albert must decide whether to accept the resignation. In July, Leterme had tendered his resignation after failing to break a political deadlock among the country’s linguistic groups, but the king refused it.


The Leterme spokesman declined to say when the prime minister would go to the king this time.

Observers said the likely next steps would be a reshuffled cabinet without Leterme or early elections, an option few of the ruling parties would want amid a deepening economic crisis and with the Fortis debacle on voters’ minds.

“We’ll have to look at how we assure stability in our country — political stability we don’t have at the moment. I hope that we’ll at least find a way of managing things in 2009,” Finance Minister Didier Reynders told Belgian television.

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