Belgium set for crucial polls

Seven million Belgians are to vote in legislative and senate elections on Sunday.

    Prime Minister Verhofstadt is unlikely
    to win another term in office [EPA]

    But while Leterme's platform of more power for regional bodies goes down well in Flanders, he has in the past angered French-speakers in the southern region of Wallonia by disparaging their failure to learn Dutch.

      

    While perfectly bilingual thanks to his francophone father and Flemish mother, it is far from certain that Leterme, a lawyer by training, will be able to bridge the linguistic divide in Belgian politics and life.

      

    Although the Flemish Christian Democracts look set to play the key role in the next government, a round of tough horse-trading is likely before a coalition is agreed, which can take months.

      

    The Christian Democrats' likely election success would allow them to regain the dominance they have held over Belgian politics for most of the post-war period, and which Verhofstadt interrupted with his two terms.

      

    But after eight years in office, his Flemish Liberal Democrats have slumped in the polls to a humiliating fourth place in Flanders despite delivering sound economic growth over most of the period.

      

    The latest polls put his party not only behind the Christian Democrats, but trailing behind the far-right Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interests party, and the Flemish Socialists.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.