Federal government: what next step for King Filip?

This evening the two veteran politicians struggling to pave the way for talks on the creation of a new Belgian federal government will report to Filip, King of Belgians.  In recent days there has been speculation that one of their number, Flemish socialist Johan Vande Lanotte, could become Belgium’s new premier at the head of a multi-party coalition, but Flemish socialist leader John Crombez has now made it clear this idea won’t fly.

Mr Vande Lanotte (right) has several trump cards.  He belongs to the country’s largest political family and as informateur could hit the ground running. John Crombez explained that Mr Vande Lanotte and Mr Reynders were appointed to be neutral and uninhibited: “He’s not there to form part of the new government. To answer the question whether it’s an option that he could become premier I can tell you ‘No, it won’t happen’.”   

This morning there is speculation King Filip could extend the mission of the informateurs, who have been trying to get Belgium’s two biggest parties, the Flemish nationalist N-VA and the Francophone socialist PS, into meaningful talks.

Health minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) defended what many see as slow progress: “We require a stable government.  The biggest parties have the initiative.  To run the country you have to compromise, but first they need to put the election campaign behind them as well as the opposition mind-set.”

“We need a budget.  The world isn’t standing still. You can never exclude parties.  The most logical solution is a government with the biggest parties: the socialists, the liberals and the Flemish nationalists.”