'Swedish Coalition' is a 'Grand Compromise'

Charles Michel, one of two men entrusted with the job of forming the new Belgian Government, has spoken of the intention of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA of not unleashing intercommunity guerrilla warfare during the next five years. Together with outgoing Flemish Premier Kris Peeters Mr Michel is trying to form a coalition of his own Francophone liberals and the Flemish nationalists of N-VA, the Flemish Christian democrats and liberals.

Mr Michel speaks of a 'grand compromise' that will allow his party to govern alone as the sole Francophone party together with three centre-right Flemish parties. The administration has already been dubbed the 'Swedish Coalition' because of its affinity to the flag of Sweden: there is an awful lot of liberal blue, a cross for the Christian democrats and yellow for the Flemish nationalists.

Mr Michel's Francophone liberals of MR are taking a big risk by joining a coalition with the Flemish nationalist N-VA as the party is widely condemned in Francophonia.

Charles Michel: "Our absolute priority is to give business the opportunity to defend itself and promote employment."

Speaking on Francophone radio Mr Michel made an effort to address trade union fears about the policies that will emanate from the centre-right administration that is being put on the rails. The Francophone liberal leader said that he was determined to defend our social security system. Mr Michel added that he hoped everybody was aware that changes to our retirement pension system were needed as a result of the aging of the population.

The MR leader confirmed that the new government won't ditch the automatic linkage between retail prices and public sector wages and benefits - called the index - or limit unemployment benefit in time, two of the main planks of the N-VA's programme.