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December 15, 1987

Prime Minister Wilfried Martens resigned after a parliamentary election setback. A Royal Palace statement said Martens presented his resignation at a meeting with King Baudouin--a formality that he would have completed whatever the outcome of Sunday's election--and had been asked to carry on in a caretaker role. Political sources said it will be very hard for Martens to reconstruct his center-right coalition, even though official election results show that it retained an eight-seat majority in the 212-seat Chamber of Deputies, 10 fewer than previously. Political commentators foresee a protracted political crisis following gains by the Socialists, which made them the biggest party in Parliament for the first time in 50 years.

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