Could Belgium be about to get its first female PM?

If no new Federal Government is formed before the current Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) leaves Belgian politics to become President of the European Council, his party colleague Sophie Wilmès is tipped to take over as temporary Prime Minister in Belgium’s minority caretaker federal government. Mr Michel is due to start his new job on 1 December. However, it is quite possible that he will have to stand down as Belgian Prime Minister before then.  

There is little optimism in government circles of a speedy breakthrough in the formation of a new federal government. Meanwhile, the current coalition made up of the Francophone and Flemish liberals and the Flemish Christian democrats is forced to plod on with just 38 of the 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives.

In addition to Mr Michel’s departure,  the Francophone liberal Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders is also set to leave to take on the post of Belgium’s EU Commissioner on 1 November          

Now government sources say that the Francophone liberal Sophie Wilmès stands the greatest chance of taking over as (temporary) Federal Prime Minister. This would make her the first ever woman to hold the post. The 44-year-old mother of four from Sint-Genesius-Rode in Flemish Brabant is currently the Federal Minister responsible for the budget, the civil service, the National Lottery and science.

With 14 seats, the Francophone liberals are the largest party in the (minority) government coalition. The multi-lingual Ms Wilmès speaks good Dutch as well as English and her native French.