Belgium’s two top politicians have abandoned efforts to put together a coalition government.
The Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever and French-speaking Socialist leader Paul Magnette had been negotiating with smaller parties in recent days with the aim of forming a new administration.
But the talks collapsed after Liberal and Green parties pushed back on the coalition proposals, issuing a rare joint statement on Thursday to underline their concerns. It left the two lead negotiators just short of a majority in parliament.
De Wever and Magnette are expected to meet with King Philippe on Monday to formally end their role as lead negotiators. They were appointed just a couple of weeks ago.
The failed attempt by the presidents of the country’s two biggest political parties sends Belgium back to the political drawing board once again. Politicians have been struggling to form a majority government for well over a year, since a general election in May 2019.
The country is currently ruled by a caretaker government under Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. But its powers are restricted and its member parties do not command a majority in parliament.
Belgium hasn’t had a fully functioning government since December 2018, when De Wever’s New Flemish Alliance party pulled out of an administration led by Charles Michel, who is now president of the European Council.