The outgoing PM Charles Michel symbolically hands over his badge to his successor, Sophie Wilmès.

Belgium gets first female Prime Minister

Sophie Wilmès, Budget Minister in the present caretaker government, is replacing fellow Francophone liberal Charles Michel as Belgian PM as Michel is packing his bags to move to the European level. 

The decision was taken by key ministers and announced yesterday evening. 44-year-old Wilmès has good Dutch language skills and took the oath this afternoon. She will write a little bit of Belgian history, as she will be the first woman at the helm of a Belgian government - though this is only a caretaker government, as politicians are still negotiating a new coalition after May's general election. 

Charles Michel had announced on Friday that he would step aside as PM in "early November at the latest" to prepare for his new job as President of the European Council, which he will take on on 1 December. 

"I will do my best to guarantee stability and continuity in the current affairs", Wilmès said in a first reaction. She studied applied communication sciences, marketing and publicity at the IHECS in Brussels. After graduating, she started at the European Commission, becoming a federal minister four years ago. It is not clear how long Wilmès can keep the top job, this will depend on the ongoing negotiations, but maybe she can become the PM of the new coalition government, depending on the outcome of the talks. 

Fellow MR member David Clarinval will replace Sophie Wilmès and take over her reponsibilities including the Budget, Civil Servants and Science Policies. 

One of the other candidates to take over from Charles Michel, Justice Minister Koen Geens of the Flemish Christian democrats of CD&V, did not make it but praised Wilmès in the VRT's Sunday TV show "De zevende dag": "I've worked with her for four years now. She is a very punctual, intelligent and pragmatic colleague who has a lot of empathy." 

Sophie Wilmès is a very intelligent and pragmatic colleague who shows a lot of empathy

Justice Minister Koen Geens

Sophie Wilmès took office this afternoon, after taking the oath with King Filip: 

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