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article imageBelgium to keep record as Spain nears government

By AFP     Oct 23, 2016 in World

As the political crisis in Spain dragged on, there had been speculation it might overtake Belgium's record for the longest spell without a government.

But after the Socialist Party voted Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, paving the way for a new Spanish government to be in place by November, Belgium appears to be in line to keep its record.

- Belgian world record -

Belgium's spectacular political crisis in 2010-2011 left the kingdom without a government for 541 days (18 months).

Outgoing Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme (R) hands over the keys of his office to newly appointe...
Outgoing Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme (R) hands over the keys of his office to newly appointed Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (L) in Brussels on December 6, 2011
Nicholas Maeterlinck, BELGA/AFP/File

The void lasted from June 13, 2010 legislative elections until a coalition government of six parties was sworn in on December 6, 2011.

Heading the new government was francophone Socialist Elio Di Rupo, who took over from Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme.

The crisis did not prevent a multi-party caretaker cabinet, which represented a parliamentary majority and was led by a former prime minister, from taking important decisions such as sending military aircraft to Libya.

In Spain on the other hand, the acting cabinet has limited powers and can only manage day-to-day affairs.

Belgium had already experienced similar crises -- in 2007 when it went for 194 days without a government, and in the 1980s when the country had no government between December 1987 and May 1988.

- Spain: light after ten months -

Spain is being run by a government without full powers after inconclusive elections in December 2015 and June 2016 that saw the conservative Popular Party (PP) win without an absolute majority.

Acting PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tried to form a minority government, but the Socialists and far-left Unidos Podemos refused to back him, fed up with corruption and rising inequality during his first four-year term.

But as the prospect of a third election grew nearer, divisions emerged within the Socialists and on Sunday the party said it had voted in favour of allowing Rajoy to rule.

They decided to abstain in a parliamentary confidence vote on a Rajoy-led government instead of casting their ballot against it as they did in a previous vote in September.

This will give Rajoy's government enough traction to see it through the vote, which should take place next weekend.

If everything goes to plan, Spain should have a government by November.

- Seven months in the Netherlands -

Before Belgium and Spain, the post-World War II European record for going without a government was held by Belgium's northern neighbour the Netherlands which took 208 days -- seven months -- to form a government in 1977.

After May 1977 elections Joop den Uyl, the head of the Labour Party (PvdA) who won polls, led negotiations between parties from the outgoing coalition.

After negotiations broke down it was finally Dries van Agt who was nominated as prime minister in December 1977 at the head of a coalition.

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