Elections are on the cards

The collapse of the Belgian Government has fuelled speculation that Belgium is now heading for a general election. Two of the outgoing government parties, the Flemish Christian democrats and the Francophone socialists favour the option of an emergency cabinet, but the opposition Flemish socialists are unwilling to enter a coalition of this kind.

Elections then seem the only alternative, but there are big questions about the legality of any result.

King Albert now makes the next move after consulting with prominent political players. Supporters of an emergency cabinet argue that it should seek a solution for the contentious issue of BHV that brought down the Belgian Government.

The Brussels Halle Vilvoorde (BHV) constituency includes bilingual Brussels, but also purely Flemish areas.
All Flemish parties want it split, but have not yet agreed to pay the price Francophones are seeking.

The emergency cabinet should also convince the international community that somebody is in charge and prevent speculation against Belgian government bonds.

An emergency cabinet would consist of the governing centre-left parties plus the opposition Flemish socialists. The governing Flemish and Francophone liberals would no longer form part of this coalition. It was the Flemish liberal party Open VLD that walked out of the government last Thursday.

The Flemish socialists are vetoing this option that would not even possess a majority in parliament.

Are we heading for elections?

The other option is a general election to be held in June. However, there are questions about the legality of any result. Earlier Belgium's Constitutional Court ruled that elections would not be valid as long as the BHV onstituency had not been split. This is because everybody elsewhere in the country could vote in provincial constituencies and as a result the equality principle was infringed.

Other commentators argue that under the Belgian Constitution elections must be held at least every four years and that this is a far more weighty principle than any ruling by the Constitutional Court.

The Flemish Christian democrats are opposed to new elections, but this option is favoured by the Flemish liberals that walked out of the government last Thursday and the opposition Flemish nationalists. The two ecologist parties too support the idea of anticipated elections.

Anticipated elections also have the added advantage of providing a breathing space in which Belgians politicians could address a number of fundamental issues like state reforms.

If federal elections are held now, the next federal and regional elections will only be held in 2014. This electoral breathing space should politicians to take number of much needed decisions without needing to worry about the impact of their rating in the polls.


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