"Belgium is a computer running on faulty software" says Flemish PM

Informateur Didier Reynders is reporting to King Albert on Tuesday afternoon. A month ago the king asked the former Francophone liberal leader to examine whether there was sufficient political will present to reach a deal on state reforms.

The decision to appoint Mr Reynders meant that for a first time since the general election the liberal parties too were being involved in tackling the political stalemate that has engulfed the country since 13 June last year.

Mr Reynders has consulted widely and has discussed the way ahead with representatives of the Francophone and Flemish Christian democrats, liberals, greens and socialists plus the Flemish nationalists. He first reported to the king a fortnight ago, when his mission was extended.

In his final report Mr Reynders intends to inform the king that the political will is there, but commentators note that the Francophone liberal has booked few results over the past month.

VRT's Marc Van de Looverbosch reports that there is a broad consensus that nine parties are too many to form a new government. The Flemish nationalists and Francophone socialists are the big certainties. The Flemish and Francophone liberals and Christian democrats will probably be involved too. The big question is what to do with the Flemish socialists and the Flemish and Francophone greens.

VRT News understands that it’s unlikely that Mr Reynders will be given yet more time to clarify the situation. It seems more likely that a Flemish Christian democrat could also be brought in.

"It's running too slowly. We have to change it"

The Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters has made it clear that his party will not shirk its responsibility. In recent days there has been growing speculation that the leader of the Flemish Christian democrats, Wouter Beke, will be asked to play a role, possibly in conjunction with Mr Reynders, though this is far form certain as the Francophone socialists oppose an extension for Mr Reynders and want the Flemish Christian democrats to put their head above the parapet.

Speaking on VRT TV on Monday evening Mr Peeters made it clear that Mr Beke would take his responsibilities: "I don't want to run ahead of events, but if you look at the long line of people that have already had a go, very few parties are still left."

Mr Peeters also rejected criticism that the Flemish Christian democrats had been hiding behind the Flemish nationalist N-VA, Belgium's biggest party: "We have made proposals in connection with health care and the finance law (that settles the funding of the regions, communities and the federal state). Maybe we neglected our marketing."

The Flemish PM insisted that Belgium needs both a new big state reform package and a New Deal. He compared Belgium to a computer that was running on faulty software: "It's running too slowly. We have to change it."

He underlined that the state reform package should be agreed during the government formation talks: "We tried to agree state reforms through a dialogue between the language communities in 2007. This failed. There is not enough pressure to reach agreement if the talks do not coincide with the government formation."