The political status in Belgium
493 days after the elections, members of the new federal government were sworn in on Thursday 1 October by the King. A new government was able to form thanks to a new coalition- the “Vivaldi” coalition – comprising seven parties – French and Dutch speaking Liberals, French and Dutch speaking Socialists, French and Dutch speaking Greens and Dutch speaking Christian Democrats. The coalition represents a majority of 87 seats (of 150 seats) in the Chamber of Representatives, and 37 out of 60 seats in the Senate.
Alexander De Croo (Open VLD – Dutch-speaking liberal) becomes the new Belgian prime minister. He has served as minister in three terms of previous governments, in which he took care of the following portfolios: pensions, finance, and development cooperation. Former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR – French-speaking liberal) has been appointed as Vice Prime Minister for Foreign and European Affairs. Frank Vandenbroucke (sp.a – Dutch-speaking socialist) has been appointed as the new health minister. Vandenbroucke has served as social affairs minister (1999-2003) and pensions minister (1999-2004), as well as employment minister (2003-2004) in the Verfhofstadt government. He was also the Flemish education minister from 2004 to 2009 before leaving politics for about a decade.
The new government will work around the Vivaldi Agreement which sets the new work programme for the coming years. Parties agreed to prioritise tackling the COVID-19 crisis and restaring the Belgian economy. The document also touches upon the European Presidency of Belgium in 2024 ahead of which the new government wants to adopt economic, social, and environmental reforms.
Seven parties are now working towards a “Vivaldi Coalition” which would include both French-speaking and Dutch-speaking socialists (PS and sp.a), liberals (MR and OpenVLD), and greens (Ecolo and Groen). It would also include Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats (CD&V).While these parties at aiming at forming a government before 17 September, the deadline may be extended as Lachaert, who has presided over negotiations, has tested positive for COVID-19. Should no agreement occur on 17 September, the Parliament might take the decision to revote the confidence in Sophie Wilmès’ government. Should the confidence not be voted upon, Belgium would return to a current affairs government and new elections may be arranged.