July 20, 2020 / 6:32 PM / 18 days ago

Belgium in last ditch effort to form government, new polls possible

FILE PHOTO: Belgian federal government members pose with for a group photo with Belgian King Philippe after caretaker government received emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus crisis, at the Royal Palace in Brussels, Belgium March 17, 2020. Benoit Doppagne/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium may have to head to the polls again if two advisers appointed by King Philippe on Monday fail to find agreement on forming a coalition government over the next fifty days, one of the advisers said.

Belgium has been run by a caretaker administration with limited powers for more than a year as a May election failed to resolve the standoff.

The king earlier on Monday tasked Bart De Wever, leader of the centre-right N-VA, the largest party in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, and Paul Magnette, Socialist party leader in the French-speaking Walloon region, with the job.

They will look into the possibilities and the requirements for forming a government. Various teams appointed by the king in recent months went back to him empty handed.

There are 50 days to form a government or elections must be called, Magnette was quoted as saying by Belgian news agency Belga.

Belgium’s linguistic divide has always been a thorny issue in forming a government. The country took a world record 541 days to cobble together a government after the 2010 election.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis

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