Guy Verhofstadt was born in 1953. He attended school and university in Ghent, where he studied the law. In 1972, he became president of the Liberal Flemish Students' Union in Ghent and, four years later, was elected as a City Councillor there. Keen to follow his interest in national politics, Verhofstadt went on to take a number of high profile posts including National President of the Party for Freedom and Progress (PVV), member of parliament, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Budget, senator, and National President of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD). In July 1999, he became prime minister of Belgium, heading three separate governments over the course of nearly ten years. In June 2009, Guy Verhofstadt was elected to the European Parliament, where he heads the Liberal and Democrat group of legislators. In addition to his duties as a politician, Verhofstadt has written a number of books, including The United States of Europe (2006), The New Age of Empires (2008) and Emerging from the Crisis: How Europe can Save the World (2009).