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Coalition talks: Vivaldi is back from the dead

Efforts to form a new Belgian government are back on track tonight after Francophone liberal leader Georges-Louis Bouchez agreed to the conditions set by preformateurs Egbert Lachaert (Flemish liberal) and Conner Rousseau (Flemish socialist) with regard to the texts that will form the basis of formal coalition talks.

This afternoon all seven parties reached agreement on the outline of a government programme: the socialists will be happy with a minimum pension of 1,500 euros and a 2.5% increase in health care expenditure.  New state reforms are planned and abortion legislation won’t be relaxed to please the Christian democrats, while the greens can be assured nuclear power plants will close. Budgetary discipline and labour market reforms will bring a smile to liberal faces.

The Vivaldi Coalition includes representatives of all four traditional Belgian parties: Flemish and Francophone liberals, socialists and greens plus the Flemish Christian democrats.  In recent days pre-coalition talks came unstuck and the Flemish socialists requested that the Francophone liberals be dropped after Mr Bouchez had given an unflattering interview about his Francophone socialist counterpart and insisted PM Wilmès (Francophone liberal) should stay on in the job.

This evening Mr Lachaert and Mr Rousseau headed for the Palace of Brussels and a meeting with Filip, King of Belgians, who on their advice appointed Flemish liberal Alexander De Croo and Francophone socialist Paul Magnette as formateurs.  They will lead the coalition talks and one of them will probably become prime minister.

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