New Flemish recovery government on the cards soon

Sunday's election showed losses for the Christian democrats of Flemish premier Kris Peeters's and massive gains for Bart De Wever's Flemish nationalists. It's a seismic shift in the Flemish political landscape that will certainly also have an impact on the composition of the new Flemish government.

For the past five years Flanders has been ruled by a coalition of Christian democrats, socialists and Flemish nationalists with the Christian democrats as the biggest party. Sunday's result makes the Flemish nationalist N-VA the biggest party and the nationalists have already said that they will take the initiative and contact potential partners as early as today.

After the fractious election campaign a coalition with the socialists does not seem on the cards. The Flemish nationalist deputy premier Geert Bourgeois has already made his party's preference clear. He told VRT News that Flanders had made a choice in favour of a centre-right, social economic government that could bring about a recovery. That seems to suggest the Flemish nationalists teaming up with the Christian democrats and the liberals and if body language and mood music are anything to go by this was also the message from Sunday night's election debates.

Nationalists and Christian democrats have a majority and do not need the liberals, but in all likelihood they will be involved if only in the discussions about the formation of a coalition. A classic three-party coalition of Christian democrats, liberals and socialists too has a majority, but the format does not seem in great demand today.

Speaking on VRT News on Monday morning Mr Bourgeois said he was ready and prepared for talks. He shied away from making a bid for the Flemish premiership acknowledging this would be part of any deal. With Sunday's result it seems unlikely that Mr Peeters could stay on in the job, but the Christian democrats are the king-makers and are certain to exact a hefty price for their co-operation. The Flemish nationalists' Liesbeth Homans enters the picture as a potential successor. One point against Mr Peeters: in his Antwerp fief he only polled 136,772 preference votes compared to 159,965 for relative newcomer Liesbeth Homans.

Mr Bourgeois is convinced a new Flemish government will be in place soon. "A new government is needed to scale down the public sector and boost the economy so that jobs can be created." he says.

Following a meeting of its political bureau the N-VA announced its intention to start Flemish government formation talks on Tuesday.

What about a federal government?

The Flemish nationalist deputy premier Geert Bourgeois concedes that the situation on the federal level is far more complex: "We are living in a two-democracy country, but the levers to create prosperity are located on the federal level and we also intend to take the initiative there if we are given a chance."

In the federal government formation process it is King Filip who plays a leading role. The monarch will now take soundings ahead of a decision on the appointment of a formateur (to form a new government), or far more likely an informateur to reconnoitre the lie of the land and identify which politician has the best chance of success.