Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said on Tuesday an early election was "almost inevitable" after the collapse of his five-month-old government last week.
King Albert accepted the resignation of Leterme's five-party coalition on Monday after failing to break an impasse between Dutch and French-speaking parties over the weekend.
"I think that the anticipated elections are almost inevitable," Leterme said in an interview with Reuters Television. "A government party has decided to leave the negotiating table, elections will be difficult to avoid."
An election earlier than next scheduled in 2011 could throw into chaos Belgium's preparations for its six-month presidency of the European Union, due to start in July, but Leterme said there was no reason for concern.
"Belgium is a founding nation of the European Union. There is no need to doubt that we will be ready for a good Belgian presidency," Leterme said.
Leterme, who is caretaker prime minister, said Belgium remained a stable country and would play a leading role in Europe. He added there was no doubt parliament would be able to pass a law to contribute towards aid for Greece.
Economists are concerned that political paralysis in the country of 10.6 million people could harm efforts to bring Belgian debt back below 100 percent of gross domestic product.
Some have said the political crisis could bring Belgium to the attention of speculators and others shorting debt markets.
The premium demanded for holding Belgian 10-year debt over German bunds has increased to 59 basis points from 43 before the crisis. Leterme said there was absolutely no way Belgium should be likened to Greece.
"The core data are totally different," he said.
Leterme tendered his resignation on Thursday after the Flemish liberal party, Open VLD, withdrew from his government.
Open VLD said it had lost faith in the coalition because of its failure to resolve a dispute between French and Dutch-speaking parties over electoral boundaries around the capital, Brussels -- a complex and extremely divisive issue.
To complicate matters further, the Constitutional Court has said a solution must be found before elections can be held, leaving politicians on Monday to debate whether an election could go ahead as well as blaming rivals for the crisis.
ReutersLast Mod: 27 Nisan 2010, 21:04