PM Wilmès: “End of special powers in June means situation is no longer critical”

After several of the opposition parties supporting the minority government of Sophie Wilmès indicated they wouldn’t support an extension of special powers, the prime minister has now also drawn her own conclusions.  She says she hopes special powers will not be needed after June.

Parliament granted the minority government special powers to address the corona crisis.  The powers mean that the government doesn’t have to return to parliament to get each single measure adopted by lawmakers.  The special powers lapse at the end of June.

PM Wilmès says she hopes no extension will be needed as this will mean the crisis is under control.  The end of special powers will signify a resumption of the regular political process in Belgium and a renewed search for a federal government that can command a majority in parliament.

The prime minister told the weekly De Zondag “Ten parties granted us special powers.  It gave the government extra power to act, but special powers aren’t very democratic.  If they are not needed, they shouldn’t be extended as far as I’m concerned.  I hope it won’t be necessary.  It would mean the situation is no longer critical.”

PM Wilmès’s minority government can count on a parliamentary majority until September, but she hopes that by then a majority government can be formed: “This country needs a government that represents the majority.”

One of the contenders for government is Bart De Wever’s Flemish nationalist N-VA, Belgium’s biggest party, but in the same weekly Mr De Wever makes it very clear he’s none too impressed by the present PM.  Federal leadership is “weak”.  The PM can’t help that she had to become PM of a minority government in a difficult country: “She doesn’t have the power or charisma to provide strong leadership, but it’s not her fault” Bart De Wever concedes.

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