Nicolas Maeterlinck

Mr Michel eyes N-VA for opposition support

Belgian lawmakers on Wednesday continued their discussions on the changes to the federal government that mean that Mr Michel's administration no longer has a majority.  Mr Michel is searching for support from the opposition benches to allow his minority administration to soldier on till the May general election.

The Prime Minister hopes the Flemish nationalists that left the cabinet will co-operate, but the N-VA insists on seeing more of the government's programme for the next few months.  Opposition parties have got a resolution passed requesting a vote of confidence in the new team.

Mr Michel has conceded that the government’s powers have been limited as it can only count on the support of a third of MPS. Opposition support will be needed for several issues including the 2019 budget.

Thanking the N-VA for the work of the past four years and pointing to the social and economic achievements Mr Michel said that a careful and responsible government that co-operates with an active and committed parliament can ensure that the interests of the citizens are defended.  The PM has no immediate plans to request a confidence vote.  Opposition parties can table a motion of no-confidence, but the PM warned that this would lead to lengthy instability.

The now opposition Flemish nationalists didn't seem particularly enamoured of Mr Michel's advances.  Floor leader De Roover: "This isn't a statement on the government's programme.  We need clarity fast!"

The N-VA insists this is a new government that must present its project to parliament.

An intervention by the floor leader of the Francophone socialists immediately made it clear that no support would be forthcoming from that direction.