Belgian coalition shatters over aid to steel industry

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Belgium's shaky center-left coalition government split apart after a dispute over aid to the ailing steel industry. Prime Minister Mark Eyskens, a Flemish-speaking Social Christian, resigned Sept. 21 after failing to resolve a blocking tactic by his coalition partners, the French-speaking Socialists. They had refused to deal with other government business until the steel question was settled. The two parties were also at odds on the extent of 1982 budget cuts and whether to maintain or modify the system of indexing wages to the cost of living.

Political sources said the government's fall -- the sixth political crisis since 1978 -- could mean an early general election or an attempt to form a new coalition.

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