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Belgium's King Philippe used his Christmas address Tuesday to call for the formation of a government after a year of political tractions to face up to a number of

national challenges.

An executive needs to be formed "as quickly as possible" in order to "take balanced decisions," the monarch, wearing a blue suit and orange tie and sitting in front of a Christmas tree in his Brussels palace, said in a recorded speech broadcast on television.

Belgium, largely split between its Dutch-speaking and right-leaning north and its French-speaking and leftist-voting south, has been without government for a year. The rise of extremist politics in both communities has made the task of forming a national administration difficult.

King Philippe, speaking in French, urged compromise and criticised "the violence explicit in language that judges and gestures that destroy".

Analysts viewed that as a condemnation of the sharp exchanges between the leaders of the two main Belgian political groups, the French-speaking Socialist Party and the New Flemish Alliance of the north.

"We live in a pivotal time, one calling into question our social, economic and environmental model. A period where many have lost their bearings. And that demands of us greater involvement. This is not a time to give up," he said.afp