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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belgium Sticks With Center-Left Coalition

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The outgoing coalition of free-market liberals and socialists started moves Monday to form a new government following a resounding election victory that swept their minority Green partners from contention.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt tendered the resignation of his outgoing coalition to King Albert, a procedural step to start the process of forming a new government.

"The logic of the result calls for Verhofstadt II," said Karel De Gucht, chairman of Verhofstadt's liberal party. The socialists also indicated that they wanted to continue with the same partners.

The Greens, however, were expected to be out as Verhofstadt's junior coalition partner after suffering a huge defeat in both Dutch-speaking Flanders and Wallonia, the country's French-speaking south.

The Greens' losses were as remarkable as the gains of the anti-immigration Flemish Bloc and the failure of Christian Democrats to return to power.

Belgians boosted the standing of the liberals and socialist allies, giving them 97 of the 150 parliamentary seats, with 99.43 percent of the votes counted.

In recent years, Verhofstadt's coalition cut taxes and reined in spending while also passing controversial social policies, such as legalizing gay marriage, euthanasia and marijuana.

"The government emerges stronger from these election results," Verhofstadt said. "There is a general feeling in the electorate that this government is doing a good job."

Sunday marked the second consecutive defeat for the Christian Democrats, who dominated Belgian politics for decades until their ouster in 1999 elections.

The Greens lost all of their nine seats in Flanders, a rare wipeout in parliamentary history. and seven of their 11 seats in Wallonia. The Greens' losses were due largely to an intragovernmental fight on the routing of night flights over Brussels. The spat led Verhofstadt to fire the Greens, who were most vocal on the issue, from his government in the middle of the election campaign.

The far-right Flemish Bloc consolidated a string of electoral gains since the 1980s by winning 18 seats, up three, despite concerted efforts by mainstream parties to keep the bloc out of governments at both the federal and local levels.