What's a government of "current business"?

A caretaker administration is seen as the most likely outcome of the present political impasse, but what exactly is such a government, dubbed here, a government of “current” or “day-to-day business”?

Such an administration has far fewer powers than a government that can count on a working majority in parliament.  The government has basically resigned and parliament can no longer bring it down when it doesn't agree with what it is doing.  Usually this sort of cabinet will be in office during government formation talks.  This time round we are looking at elections that by law will take place on 26 May together with the European elections.  Only if parliament votes to dissolve itself can early elections be held.  

Such an administration will do everything to ensure all necessary government business can be dealt with.  In 2010, as government formation talks dragged on, when Belgium set a new world record for the country without a government for the longest period of time, Belgium had a caretaker administration for over a year.  There was talk about "cautious affairs" because as the situation drags on for longer, more and more government business needs to be carried out, simply because it can't wait.  Civil servants need to be paid and appointments need to be made. Brexit is almost upon us and that's certainly an issue that the Michel caretaker administration will need to take action on, but in principle no new initiatives can be taken.

Under this system a budget for a full year won't be voted but the government will receive monthly payments.  According to constitutional expert Prof Patricia Popelier (Antwerp University) a caretaker administration can even identify articles of Belgium's basic law that parliament can declare up for revision under the next parliament.

In principle power shifts from the government to parliament, though in some quarters there will be concerns the absence of a government with full powers will mean the country lacks direction.

Top stories