11 Dec 2011

Last hurdle crossed in 18 month post-election deadlock

11:11 am on 11 December 2011

Belgium's new government has won a parliamentary confidence vote, the last hurdle in resolving a political crisis that has lasted a record-breaking 541 days.

Eighty-nine deputies have voted in favour of the six-party administration headed by Elio Di Rupo.

Fifty-four notably Flemish separatists voted against the administration.

Mr Di Rupo's government comprises of six ministers from thriving Dutch-speaking Flanders and six from economically deprived French-speaking Wallonia.

Divisions have sharpened between the country's two parts and it is struggling to remain united around a joint political and economic vision.

The new administration was only formed when the powerful separatist N-VA party was excluded from the lengthy coalition talks.

Mr Di Rupo is Belgium's first French-speaking premier in more than three decades and the first socialist at its helm since 1974.

Having already lost a year and a half to the haggling, he has only two and a half years of his four year term left.