Leterme, Yves

Leterme, Yves ēv lĕtûrˈmĕ [key], 1960–, Belgian political leader, prime minister of Belgium (2008, 2009–11), grad. Catholic Univ. of Leuvan (LL.B., 1981), Ghent Univ. (M.A., 1985). A Dutch-speaker from West Flanders, he has been active in the Flemish Christian Democratic party, becoming its chairman in 2003. Leterme served as an administrator in the European Union (1993–97) and as a member of the Belgian parliament (1997–2004). Subsequently (2004–7), he headed the government of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking portion of Belgium. Leterme has called for constitutional reforms and for greater autonomy for Flanders. His Christian Democrats won a plurality in the parliamentary elections of June, 2007, putting him in line to lead the government, but ethnic and political divisions between the Flemish and the French-speaking Walloons kept the country without a new government for some nine months. In Mar., 2008, Leterme finally pulled together a five-party coalition government, and he became prime minister, but his government resigned in Dec., 2008, after accusations of political interference in a judicial case concerning the sale of Fortis, a troubled bank and Belgium largest private employer. In Nov., 2009, however, his successor, Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, resigned to become president of the EU's European Council, and Leterme was named prime minister a second time. His coalition collapsed in Apr., 2010, over language-community-related issues, but inconclusive negotiations over forming a government after the June elections extended his caretaker government into late 2011.

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