New Belgian government gets backing from MPs

For the first time since Belgium’s inconclusive general election on 26 May 2019 Belgium has a federal government with full powers.  The Belgian chamber of representatives has just given its support to the new administration. 84 MPs backed PM Wilmès, 44 voted against.

The new government is the result of a deal struck on Sunday between the parties of the outgoing caretaker administration and several opposition parties. Belgium has been struggling to form a new government for many months, but the coronavirus emergency concentrated minds.  Robust action that can only be provided by a government with full powers is needed.

Forming a new coalition proved impossible, but there is also a realisation that changing government ministers at this point of time would create delay.  As a result opposition parties agreed to back a repeat of the outgoing administration.  Its brief is limited: to take all measures needed to address the corona emergency and its time in office will be short. The new government, a coalition of Flemish and Francophone liberals and Flemish Christian democrats, and headed by Francophone liberal Sophie Wilmès, is not expected to continue after September.

Under the deal parliament will also give the new government special powers.  This means that the government will be able to take action that would normally require endorsement by parliament.  Endorsement will be given at a later stage.  It is not since the economic crisis of the early Eighties that a Belgian parliament has given an administration special powers.

Nine parties including the Flemish and Francophone socialists and greens voted in favour, the Flemish nationalist N-VA, the far right and the far left failed to back the new administration.

The vote happened in stages and on paper due to the health situation.


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