King turns down Preformateurs resignation and gives them another two days

Belgium’s Head of State King Filip has refused to accept the resignation of the two men he had given the task of getting the coalition talks on track. The two “Preformateurs" Egbert Lachaert (Flemish liberal) and Conner Rousseau (Flemish socialist) had offered their resignation when they met with the King late on Monday afternoon. Early on Monday evening it emerged that King had refused to accept their resignation. He asked them to continue their work and has given them until Wednesday at the latest to report to him again. 

After an afternoon of fruitless negotiations with the seven so-called “Vivaldi” parties (The Francophone and Flemish liberals, socialists and greens and the Flemish Christian democrats) Mr Lachaert and Mr Rousseau went to the Palace empty-handed when they met with the King at 5pm. They left at around 6pm but gave no comment on their meeting with the King.

The plan had been to appoint a so-called “formateur”, a person that forms the new government and usely becomes Prime Minister. However, this didn’t happen as no agreement had yet been reached between the 7 parties.  

At around noon on Monday the talks restarted after they had broken down on Sunday evening. The reason for the talks breaking down then was the perceived attitude of the Francophone liberal leader George Louis Bouchez.

Mr Bouchez’s attitude at the negotiating table particularly towards the Francophone socialist leader Paul Magnette and his insistence that the Prime Minister in the current minority government, his party colleague Sophie Wilmès had caused what seemed to be an irreconcilable rift with the socialists from both sides of the language divide.

On Monday morning the Flemish socialists said that the Francophone liberals must go. However, the fact that the Flemish liberals insist that they will only enter a coalition with their Francophone ideological bedfellows mans that they must be kept on bord.

Mr Lachaert and Mr Rousseau tried throughout Monday afternoon to get the talks on track. Their failure to do so left them with little choice other than to offer their resignation. However, the King refused to accept this and has asked them to “continue their activities”.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the Palace wrote "The King asks all parties involved to restore trust as quickly as possible”. The two Preformateurs now have until Wednesday to report to the King again. Their task won’t be an easy one.

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