Six parties lined up for federal government formation talks in October

Johan Vande Lanotte and Didier Reynders have reported to King Filip on the social economic challenges facing the country and on efforts to bring six parties around the table for a federal government formation.  The informateurs told newsmen that the phase of formal formation talks had not yet arrived and probably wouldn’t arrive until the formation of regional governments.

In consequence King Filip has decided to extend the mission entrusted to Johan Vande Lanotte (Flemish socialist) and Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal), Belgium’s two informateurs, who are paving the way for formal talks with a view to forming a new federal government.  The informateurs will report back to the king by the beginning of next month.

106 days after the general election Belgium is still without a new federal government.  In these past months the informateurs have been taking soundings and have been trying to get the country’s two biggest parties, the Flemish nationalist N-VA and the Francophone socialist PS, around the same table.  The two parties that defend very different programmes have seen each other twice at a round table.  Only with these two parties on board can a new government command a majority both among Flemish and Francophone MPs.  In recent months the absence of devolved governments has been seen as an obstacle to the federal formation because parties do not know who will be involved as this also has implications for what can be realised in practice on the federal level.  

During this extra period, until the beginning of October, the informateurs will attempt to find elements of convergence between the six parties to allow formal government formation talks to start in October. The informateurs will work on numerous topics including migration, retirement pensions and health insurance, employment, security, the budget, climate and energy, poverty and international development. Six parties will be involved: the Flemish nationalists, the Flemish liberals, socialists and Christian democrats and the francophone liberals and socialists.

Mr Vande Lanotte noted that after this seventh report to the king the traditional information round had been concluded, but that the next step, government formation, wasn’t yet possible.