Nationalists, liberals and socialists start talks on new coalition for Antwerp

More than a month since the municipal elections, the Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever has announced that formal talks are to get under way on the formation of a new coalition to govern the city for the next 6 years. Over the past five weeks, Mr De Wever has held a series of discrete preparatory talks with representatives of the various parties that hold seats on the newly-elected council. 

With these talks in mind it was decided that formal coalition talks should begin with the socialists (6 seats) and the liberals (2 seats). Mr De Wever’s Flemish nationalists won 23 of the 55 council seats. A coalition between the nationalists, the socialists and the liberals would have a comfortable majority of 31 out of 55.

Continuing the current coalition of nationalists, liberals and Christian democrats (3 seats), would mean that the new coalition would have meant a majority of just 1 seat. This is a fact that has been repeated on several occasions by Mr De Wever, who as the leader of the biggest group on the newly-elected council is in charge of forming a new coalition. He has also said that the largest opposition party, the greens, have “absolutely no ambition to take on responsibility” in the new city cabinet”.

Prior to the municipal elections on October 14, Mr De Wever had said that he favoured a continuation of the existing coalition. However, while the nationalist and liberals held their ground, the Christian democrats lost two of their five seats, leaving the coalition with a majority of just one seat. After a month of informative and preparatory talks, Mr De Wever says that he believes that the socialists and the liberals are the parties that are most prepared to enter coalition talks.