The outgoing prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt (picture), started Tuesday his consultations to seek a way out of the political crisis. In an unusual step king Albert asked him to do so the evening before.
Verhofstadt, prime minister of Belgium since 1999 and a Flemish liberal, was received by King Albert on Sunday and twice on Monday. The king seems to have consulted Didier Reynders, the president of the Walloon liberals on Saturday evening, shortly after the resignation of the Christian democratic formateur Yves Leterme.
According to some sources the leaders of the Flemish and Walloon liberals, including Verhofstadt and Reynders, met on Sunday evening in the restaurant Clos St-Denis – quoted with two stars in the latest edition of the Guide Michelin – in a village about twenty kilometers to the west of Maastricht. Their aim was to work out a strategy wherein the liberals should take over the initiative from the Flemish Christian democrats.
Verhofstadt seems himself to have hesitated to abandon the low profile he had kept since his election defeat on June the 10th. In his own party some resistance was heard against his return. But on Monday at 6 p.m. the palace issued a statement in which it said it ‘had asked prime minister Verhofstadt to inform the king on short notice how the present deadlock can be broken and to contact the necessary people to do so.’
Verhofstadt himself then read a statement to the press at 6.40 p.m. in the entrance hall of his cabinet. In it he said his mission was ‘ very temporary and limited’. His main task was ‘to start a process of constitutional reform’ and to ‘seek an outcome for some urgent issues’ in the economic field.
On Tuesday Verhofstadt met with the two assembly presidents, Herman Van Rompuy and Armand Dedecker, who have not been relieved of their mission by the King. He also consulted a series of party presidents.