King Filip is holding under consideration the resignation of the Belgian government after PM Charles Michel offered the resignation of his cabinet on Tuesday evening. Mr Michel acted after socialists tabled a no confidence motion in his administration. He did not await the outcome of any vote.
King Filip has started a first round of talks with political leaders following the resignation. The most likely outcome of the present impasse seems to be a caretaker administration under Mr Michel that soldiers on till the federal and European poll on 26 May. Privy councillor Johan Vande Lanotte noted: "It's rather strange. Anticipated elections cannot be held because there was no actual vote on the no confidence measure."
Opposition parties had been pressing for the PM to seek the confidence of parliament of his own accord after the Flemish nationalists left the government as a result of their opposition to the UN's global compact on migration. Mr Michel remained at the head of a minority government, dubbed Michel II, consisting of Flemish and Francophone liberals and Flemish Christian democrats, and had hoped to remain in office taking all initiatives to parliament and seeking support from a variety of parties to enact legislation. This is now not to be.
Patricia Popelier, professor constitutional law at Antwerp University, insists that anticipated elections are possible: "King Filip simply has to put the question to parliament."
If the king accepts the resignation of the government, parliament could vote to dissolve itself, but commentators suggest no such majority exists. If Mr Michel is allowed to soldier on until May he will head a caretaker administration with limited powers. The government will not be able to take any new meaningful initiatives.
VRT's Johny Vansevenant argues that the king taking political soundings is intended to gain time and calm matters down, but reconstructing a government with full powers is highly unlikely. A caretaker administration is the most likely outcome: "No single government party wishes to see early elections. It would mean a campaign on migration and government parties are unwilling to grant such a present to the nationalists and far right."
As long as parliament is not dissolved, it can continue to work. Legislation can be tabled and laws can be enacted.