"In contrast with today there was a remarkable optimism twelve months ago. There were two clear winners, Bart De Wever's Flemish nationalists and Elio Di Rupo's Francophone socialists, two parties with two clear leaders.
In Francophone Belgium the PS polled over 37%. In Flanders the nationalist N-VA took 28%.
People thought with a result like that you can compromise, you can make a concession.
At the first meeting between the two main players it seemed as if they had struck a gentleman's agreement."
What went wrong?
"Mutual distrust and the two parties' platforms put them on a collision course. At the weekend Bart De Wever summed it up like this: 'PS and N-VA are night day'.
The N-VA is right-wing, the PS left-wing. Francophones fear that state reforms will lead to impoverishment and that is why they have put on the brakes.
The N-VA rejects a grey compromise and is not playing the usual game of give and take. The N-VA wants to test the limits and land as much as possible because Flemish nationalism has never been this powerful. Splendid results in opinion polls strengthen their conflicting positions."
What now? Are we heading for fresh elections?
"That's highly likely. At the weekend Mr De Wever insisted that he did not believe in a second year of negotiations. As the Flemish Christian democrats are refusing to enter government without the N-VA, elections are the only option. That is unless Mr Di Rupo secures an accord, but in political Belgium nobody believes that that is going to happen.
Mr Di Rupo will probably come to the conclusion that no accord is possible in September. Summer will be over and Belgium will probably go to the polls in October."