King gives informateurs more time to finish the job

Filip, King of Belgians, has asked Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders and privy councillor Johan Vande Lanotte to continue their mission looking into ways of forming a new Belgian government. 

The Royal Palace released the news after Mr Reynders, a prominent Francophone liberal, and Mr Vande Lanotte, a leading Flemish socialist elder statesman, reported to the head of state on the progress they had made in their talks since the general election.

Since their appointment last Thursday the two informateurs have spoken with representatives of all the parliamentary parties bar the far right and far left.  Talks have also been held with union and the employer organisations to learn more about the social economic challenges facing this small country.

On Wednesday the European commission took Belgium to task for failing to meet budgetary rules.  Belgium's national debt stands at 102% of national output leading at least two deputy premiers, Kris Peeters (CD&V) and Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), to conclude this is not the time to focus on state reforms.

Transforming Belgium into a confederation of two states is the goal of the Flemish nationalist N-VA that is Belgium's biggest party.  The federal government formation process will be difficult as N-VA has excluded Francophone leftist parties, while all Francophone parties are ruling out a coalition with the N-VA.

Speaking at a news conference after being confirmed in the job the informateurs noted that several interlocutors realise that a repeat of 2010/11 isn’t permitted.  In these years it took 541 days for a new Belgian government to be agreed. 

The present caretaker government only holds 38 seats out of 150 and in the event of a No Deal Brexit this would be a situation full of risk the informateurs say.   The 2020 budget needs to be drawn up and shown to the EU by 15 October.  Without a parliamentary majority the government faces a difficult task.

The informateurs report back to King Filip on 17 June.