PM to combine job with that of party leader

The Prime Minister in Belgium’s caretaker Federal Government Charles Michel (photo above, right) is to combine his post at the head of the cabinet table with that of the leader of his party, the Francophone liberals. What is a highly unusual move for a Belgian Prime Minister has come about as the incumbent leader of the Francophone liberals Olivier Chastel (photo above, left) is stepping down in order to concentrate on his party’s campaign for the European elections that will be held in just over three months’ time. 

Mr Chastel will head the Francophone liberals list for the European Parliament.

Olivier Chastel announced that he was stepping down after Monday morning’s party council meeting. It was also announced that none other than the Prime Minister Charles Michel would lead the party into the federal, regional and European elections in 26 May.    

In a statement Mr Chastel said that “I want to concentrate fully on the European campaign and will not continue my mandate as party leader”.  Mr Michel led the Francophone liberals from 2011 to 2014. He stepped down when he became Prime Minister. Charles Michel will head his party’s federal election list in Walloon Brabant.   

In some other countries such as the UK it is quite normal that a party leader is also the Prime Minister. However, in Belgium with our system of coalition governments this is highly unusual as the Prime Minister is supposed to act in the interest of the country rather than his (or her) party.

However, the Ghent University professor of politics Carl De Vos told VRT News that “We are in exceptional times with a caretaker government”.