AFP or licensors

Candidate PM Michel sets out his priorities: "Jobs, jobs, jobs, no state reforms!"

Prime Minister Charles has spoken of his ambition of creating yet more jobs and keeping fresh state reforms firmly in the icebox if he becomes prime minister after the 26 May general election.

Mr Michel was speaking on VRT's election programme "Iedereen Kiest" (Everybody votes).  Mr Michel first headed a four party coalition of Flemish nationalists, liberals and Christian democrats together with his own Francophone liberals of MR.  The MR was the only Francophone party in the coalition that didn't have a majority in Francophonia.  After 4 and a half years of the five year fixed term parliament the Flemish nationalists left the coalition and Mr Michel soldiered on at the head of a caretaker administration.

On the risk he was taking as the only Francophone party: "I gave this much thought, but without the coalition there was a large risk of complete immobility.  I was convinced that with this team we could push through social economic reforms."

The second half of the government term was pretty tumultuous, but the start too was difficult.

"I hadn’t expected the first months to be so difficult.  I constantly had to restore serenity in the coalition.  Everybody was nervous to start off."

"We achieved a lot: the tax shift (from labour to capital) and the corporation tax reforms.  I believe it will become clear in coming years that what we achieved was enormously important.  I also learned that for the public at large perception is more important than reality.  I regret this.  Communication is as important as taking decisions."

Mr Michel is prepared for a second term as PM if there is a strong government accord and no intercommunity wrangling.

"In a government accord there must be an ambition for more jobs.  That's the key to the future, the climate challenge and social cohesion."

Mr Michel isn't ruling out a new term with the Flemish nationalists: "It's election campaign time and difficult to predict their priorities after the election.  It's a party with two faces.  The project is what counts.  There has to be social economic ambition."

Mr Michel says he most enjoyed representing Belgium abroad, while weekly PMQs in parliament often descended into "a caricature with idiotic polemics".