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Didier Reynders has been asked by the King to help find a way of breaking the stalemate
(picture Belga)
Didier Reynders has been asked by the King to help find a way of breaking the stalemate
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Didier Reynders looking for mediator

Fri 24/08/07 - The Francophone liberal Chairman Didier Reynders has been asked by King Albert of the Belgians to try and find a way out of the political deadlock caused by the breakdown of the federal coalition talks.

King Albert II hopes that a way out of the current political impasse can be found quickly.

He has asked Mr Reynders to talk to the leaders of the Flemish and Francophone Christian democrats and liberals to find out what they feel is the best way forward in the aftermath of Yves Leterme's resignation as chairman of the coalition talks on Thursday.

Raymond Langendies
(Belga)
Raymond Langendies

After Mr Leterme quit, it looked certain that a Francophone Christian democrat mediator would be appointed to try and get the talks back on track.

The role played by Joëlle Milquet's party in the breakdown of the coalition talks made the choice of a Francophone Christian democrat to try and smooth things over seen obvious.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives and MEP Raymond Langendries has been tipped by many as the most likely man for the job.

However, the Francophone Christian democrats are suspicious of the other parties' motives.

Consequently, the party has suggested appointing two mediators: a Francophone Christian democrat and a Flemish liberal.

However, the Flemish liberals seem reluctant to put anyone forward.

"True Belgian" to the rescue?

Who is Mr Langendries, the Francophone Christian democrat most hotly tipped as the guy expected to get the job of salvaging the government formation talks?

Raymond Langendries is the bilingual mayor of Tubise, a municipality in Walloon Brabant just across the language border.

Mr Langendries is also a member of the European Parliament.

He can look back on a long political career. He has served as an MP, senator and government minister.

He was the Civil Service Minister at the end of the eighties.

He also served as Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives, which makes him a consensus figure.

Mr Langendries took the lead in efforts to reform the way politicians operated after the disappointments of the nineties, when Belgium was hit by a series of party funding scandals uncovering unsavoury ties with industry.

He also sat on the select committee that examined responsibility in the case of the demise of national air carrier Sabena.

Around this time he became a Privy Councillor. Some sources say that this was a reward for keeping the royal family out of the Sabena dossier.

Francophone Christian democrats have traditionally kept up strong ties with the Belgian royal family that has considerable financial interests.