Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to Belgium

It was not my intention to make the first post-Christmas posting about Belgium but needs must be. There is a new development in that country’s permanent political and constitutional crisis.

The Wall Street Journal reports that King Albert has named a successor to Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who has resigned amid a financial scandal. (Are we surprised? Not unbearably.)
After more than a week of negotiation with the country's fragmented political parties, King Albert asked Herman Van Rompuy, president of the lower house of Belgium's parliament, to form a government. While the person chosen for this role doesn't always get the top job, "in this case, it's absolutely clear Mr. Van Rompuy will become prime minister in a few days," said Olivier Alsteens, a government spokesman.

Mr. Van Rompuy, 61 years old, is a member of the Christian Democrats, the same party that Mr. Leterme belongs to. He earned plaudits as a finance and budget minister in the 1990s when he gradually reduced Belgium's national debt so that the country would meet the criteria to adopt the euro in 1999.
All but one of the ministers will be those of the existing (since March) coalition government.

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