Flemish liberal leader Alexander De Croo will be Belgium’s new prime minister at the helm of 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 confirmed the parties had elected the 44-year-old finance minister prime minister. He is to be sworn in by the Belgian king on Thursday.
By electing a Flemish leader, the new government hopes to offset the fact that its parliamentary base is mainly French-speaking parties, with the main Dutch-speaking groups in opposition.
“We flipped a coin and it came down to Alexander and it’s an excellent choice,” joked Magnette at the end of the press conference to present the outcome of the negotiations.
Belgium has not had a government majority for 21 months since the collapse of the government of former leader Charles Michel, and 493 days have passed since the general election failed to resolve the crisis.
Leaders from seven parties met until the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday before agreeing on a government program and cabinet list to be presented to King Philippe.
De Croo will replace French-speaking liberal leader Sophie Wilmes, who served as incumbent prime minister during the coronavirus epidemic but never had 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 larger Flemish nationalist N-VA, which was in government between 2014 and 2018, will leave power.
The Belgian House of Representatives is expected to meet on Thursday to support the new government.
The country has been ruled by a minority coalition since December 2018, when the N-VA abruptly left Michel’s government amid a dispute over immigration.
Various Greens and marginalized groups won the parliamentary elections in May 2019, further fragmenting the political landscape and making it more difficult to build a majority around traditional parties.
Belgium has a long history of political instability and was without a government for 541 days in 2010 and 2011.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)