Flemish liberal leader Alexander De Croo will be the new Belgian Prime Minister heading a seven-party coalition government, it was announced on Wednesday – 16 months after an inconclusive election.
De Croo’s French-speaking socialist rival Paul Magnette has confirmed that the parties have chosen the 44-year-old finance minister as prime minister. He must be sworn in on Thursday by the King of Belgium.
By choosing a Flemish leader, the new government hopes to balance the fact that its parliamentary base will be mainly French-speaking parties, with the main Dutch-speaking groups in opposition.
“We flipped a coin and it fell to Alexander and it’s a great choice,” Magnette joked at the end of the press conference to present the outcome of the negotiations.
Belgium has not had a ruling majority for 21 months since the government collapsed under former leader Charles Michel, and it has been 493 days since the federal elections failed to resolve the crisis.
The leaders of seven parties met until the wee hours of the morning Wednesday before reaching agreement on a government program and cabinet composition to present to King Philippe.
De Croo will replace French-speaking liberal leader Sophie Wilmes who served as interim prime minister during the coronavirus epidemic but never held a parliamentary majority.
The new coalition will bring together two socialist parties – one French-speaking and one Flemish – two liberal parties and two groups of Greens.
The CD&V, a party of Flemish Christian Democrats, will also join, but the largest Flemish nationalist N-VA, who was in government between 2014 and 2018, will step down.
The Belgian House of Representatives is expected to meet on Thursday to approve the new government.
The country has been ruled by a minority coalition since December 2018, when the N-VA abruptly left Michel’s government during an immigration dispute.
The May 2019 legislative elections saw gains from various green and fringe groups, further fragmenting the political landscape and making it more difficult to form a majority around traditional parties.
Belgium has a long history of political instability and went without a government for 541 days in 2010 and 2011.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)