New Belgian government sworn in   
 
 
Van Rompuy, left, was sworn in as Belgium's new prime minister by King Albert 
II [AFP]    Herman
Van Rompuy, a Flemish Christian Democrat, has been sworn in as
Belgium's prime minister, to head a revived five-party coalition.
King Albert II swore the new government into office at a ceremony at the royal 
palace on Tuesday.
Van Rompuy replaces his fellow party member Yves Leterme, who
resigned on December 19 over allegations of political meddling in the
bailout of the stricken bank Fortis. The five parties that had made up 
Leterme's government renewed their coalition
after a meeting on Tuesday.
The new government faces a parliamentary vote of confidence on Friday.
'Good formula'
Van Rompuy was expected to take over his predecessor's plan for battling a 
looming recession caused by the global financial crisis.
He will also have to handle the strained relations between Flanders,
Belgium's richer, more populous Dutch-speaking region, and its
Francophone area.
"Nothing is simple in our country, but what is important is that we
have a government to lead with seriousness, stability and serenity,"
said Elio di Rupo, the leader of the Francophone Socialist party.
Van Rompuy will be the third prime minister since general elections
in June 2007 in the linguistically divided country that is host to the
main European Union institutions and to Nato.
Budgetary hardliner
Belgium is expected to have slipped into recession in the fourth
quarter and large banks have received bailouts. Fighting the economic
downturn will be Reynders' main challenge.
Van Rompuy, 61, has the reputation of being both an intellectual and a 
budgetary hardliner.
He was budget minister from 1993 to 1999 and sharply reduced public debt in his 
first year in office.
His other task will be to sort out the Fortis debacle.
The bank's shareholders won an appeal court ruling this month,
freezing the group's break-up by the Dutch, Luxembourg and Belgian
governments and the latter's sale of Fortis assets to BNP Paribas.
Leterme's government had planned a $2.87bn package of measures to
boost growth, including tax cuts, lower energy costs and accelerated
infrastructure projects.
That government collapsed after the supreme court said there were
clear indications of political meddling in a court ruling over the
bailout of Fortis.
Belgium's coalition comprises of the Flemish Christian Democrat
party, the Flemish Liberal party, the Francophone Liberal party, the
Francophone Christian Democrats and the Francophone Socialist party. 


      

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