“Flemish liberals won’t join coalition without a majority in Flanders”

The former Flemish and Federal Minister and current liberal Mayor of Ostend (West Flanders) Bart Tommelein has told VRT News that his party won’t enter a federal coalition unless it includes parties that together have a majority of the federal MPs elected in Flanders. 

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, Mr Tommelein said “If Mr Di Rupo (the leader of the Francophone socialists) thinks that we will join a government with all the leftist parties from Wallonia and against the flow in Flanders, then we say that this is not desirable”.

Given that the sum total of the Flemish Christian democrat, Flemish liberal, Flemish socialist and Flemish green federal MPs elected  on Sunday is less than half of the 89 Flemings elected to the Federal Parliament, Mr  Tommelein has effectively said that his party will only join a Federal Government that  includes the Flemish nationalist party N-VA.    

The result of Sunday’s election has made the formation of a new Federal Government particularly tricky. In Flanders right-wing parties have the upper hand and the far-right tripled its vote compared with 2014. Meanwhile, in Wallonia parties on the left were the big winners and the far-left saw its number of federal MPs rise considerably.  

The largest party in the Federal Parliament, the Flemish nationalists, had said that  a Federal Government without a Flemish majority would be “a major problem”. Leader figures in the party such as Theo Francken and Jan Jambon were responding to the Francophone socialist leader Elio Di Rupo who suggest on Monday that a Federal Government without a Flemish majority is the way forward.

The leader of the Flemish liberals Gwendolyn Rutten had already said that such a government was “not desirable”. Mr Tommelein now goes a step further. He told ‘De ochtend’ that “We won’t join a government that doesn’t have a majority in Flanders”.  

This makes it all the more difficult to form a Federal Government given that the Flemish nationalist have already said that they don’t wish to enter a coalition with the Francophone socialists and the greens.