PM Michel rejects "N-VA blackmail"

Prime Minister Charles Michel has said that he will not allow himself to be intimidated or blackmailed by the Flemish nationalist N-VA that left the government over the UN Migration Compact.  Mr Michel has rejected the demands set by the N-VA to approve next year's budget.

Mr Michel, who now heads a minority government, had been banking on the N-VA to approve next year's budget this week.  He now accuses the N-VA of setting “unacceptable demands” on their support.  According to the premier the N-VA is demanding either early elections or preparations for state reforms.

Demands set by N-VA to approve the budget include lowering unemployment benefit more quickly for claimants. The nationalists are still pressing several issues in connection with the UN Migration Compact and want to see parts of the constitution declared up for revision.  The present parliament needs to declare individual articles up for revision if the next parliament is to reform the constitution.

Mr Michel now speaks of N-VA blackmail and points out that the draft budget was approved in select committee with N-VA support before they left the government.  "Not one euro has been changed" he added.

Deputy Premier Peeters (Flemish Christian democrat) remains unfazed: "We will have a look to see who we need."

Mr Peeters notes that if the N-VA favours early elections they will need the support of the Francophone socialists.  The Michel II administration could face a no confidence motion in parliament as early as Tuesday if the Flemish socialists make good their threats.

Meanwhile N-VA has denied making any new demands.