Belgium has a new government

PM Charles Michel is now heading a minority administration after the Flemish nationalists quit the government.  Mr Michel intends to soldier on until the 26 May general election at the head of a coalition of Flemish and Francophone liberals and Flemish Christian democrats that has no majority in parliament.

The Michel I administration came to an end among considerable confusion this weekend.  The Flemish nationalist coalition partner N-VA made it clear it couldn't support the UN Global Compact on Migration.  An extraordinary cabinet meeting was called on Saturday evening.  When the three other partners refused to allow Belgium to abstain in any vote on the UN Migration Compact N-VA ministers walked out.  The PM took note of their decision and by Sunday morning he had their resignation letters in hand.

Mr Michel took the letters to King Filip, who accepted the resignations.  Mr Michel also announced several changes to his government.  Several junior ministers were promoted and other portfolios juggled around.

Deputy Premier Kris Peeters noted the government should rapidly make it clear what it still wanted and could do ahead of the May poll. Opposition parties offered to help out in parliament.  N-VA promised to be constructive, while socialist votes would only be forthcoming if course was changed.

A change of tone is also noticeable in the administration with Maggie De Block, who now takes the asylum portfolio, promising to revisit asylum quotas.  Mr Michel indicated that he wanted to avoid early elections at all costs.

Following a first cabinet meeting Mr Michel identified three priorities: maintaining spending power and social-economic policy, increasing security and climate policy.

Mr Michel insisted that the three parties supporting his government would follow strict, but humane asylum policies.