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Die Welt - Germany | Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How can Belgium get out of its crisis?

Hannelore Crolly portrays the Belgian King Albert II, who is to act as a mediator in the current state crisis. "It's true that the two squabbling ethnic groups have nothing in common - apart from their king. The universally popular 73-year-old monarch Albert II plays a key role in Belgium's unity. Without him and the royal dynasty, which is equally respected by the Flemish and the Walloons, it would be absolutely impossible to get through the state crisis more or less unscathed. ... But the father of three and grandfather of 12 hasn't been all too successful so far. Since the chief negotiator Yves Leterme threw in the towel again last Saturday, the country is in a stalemate. The sixth king in the history of Belgium could now risk an unusual move: if he grants the government which has been voted out of office but is provisionally managing government business more powers, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt could remain in office until the regional elections in 2009. To postpone the dispute would be to end the crisis."

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