Any candidates to become Prime Minister?

Bart De Wever, the leader of the Flemish nationalists of N-VA, wants to step up efforts to reach a political deal before the summer. It is, however, the question who would become the new Formateur to form a new coalition government. King Albert is continuing his round of consultations to make a decision.

On Friday, the king continued his consultations with the different political players. He had meetings with Charles Michel (Francophone liberals), Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberals) and Joëlle Milquet (Francophone Christian democrats) on the agenda after already taking soundings from the two main players, Bart De Wever and Elio Di Rupo (photo), yesterday. The king will pursue his efforts next week. He will not take a decision before then.

King asked to appoint a formateur

Meanwhile, most parties agree that the pace of the negotiations should be stepped up, and that the best thing would be to have a so-called Formateur.

A Formateur would have the task of forming a new coalition government and would become the new Prime Minister if he succeeds. Just like several other traditional parties, the N-VA rejects the idea of continuing with a kind of negotiator once again.

The process of forming a new coalition government should be kicked off soon in order to force a breakthrough in the coming 10 weeks, the last weeks before the summer break. Speaking on VRT radio in the current affairs programme "De ochtend", N-VA leader Bart De Wever said that it's now or never, as reaching an accord after the summer will be even more complicated as it is now.

"After summer, next year's local elections are coming closer. The room for manoeuvre on making concessions, will become even smaller. I can imagine that the Francophone parties will take a tougher stand on the issue of BHV if they have local elections ahead, which I can even understand."

The summer is not a deadline for Mr De Wever "but if you're honest with yourself, you know that it will become completely impossible to break the deadlock then."

Elio Di Rupo or Bart De Wever?

The N-VA now wants the king to appoint a Formateur, who picks his future coalition partners. "I think we have nothing to lose. If we fail, it will be another disappointment. But if we don't try, the situation will stay as it is, blocked."

Bart De Wever repeated that he is prepared to take the initiative if there are no other candidates. "If have never applied for the job of Prime Minister, but if Elio Di Rupo (of the Francophone socialists) refuses to do it... you can't exclude anything in the long run. Somebody has to act as the driving force. I am prepared to try."

It's one of the first times that Mr De Wever openly says that he is a candidate to become PM, but is clear that he'd rather have Mr Di Rupo having a go first and that he is not very eager to become the country's leader.

Mr Di Rupo has not said "no" so far to the request. However, problems remain. Mr De Wever wants the new Formateur to continue with a limited number of parties (preferably without the Flemish socialists) to speed up the process, while Mr Di Rupo is of the opinion that it would be best to continue with the 9 parties together.

"It must be one of the two"

Interior Minister Annemie Turtelboom (Flemish liberal) said this morning that "one of the two" (either Mr De Wever or Mr Di Rupo) will have to become the new Prime Minister eventually. She agrees with the idea that a formateur should be appointed, in order to allow the different parties "to finally discuss content", referring to more concrete talks on a new government policy.