Thursday

25th Aug 2016

Focus

Deja vu as Belgian coalition talks break down

  • Flemish flag: the N-VA was unable to form a coalition, as pessimism mounts (Photo: crosby_cj)

One month after national elections in Belgium, the process of forming a new government is going nowhere.

The lead negotiator and chairman of the Flemish nationalist N-VA party, Bart De Wever, returned his mandate to form a government to the king on Wednesday (25 June).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The move has prompted fears that Belgium is heading for another lengthy round of talks on shared rule. Less than three years ago it took almost 550 days to make the deal – a world record.

After the 25 May elections, there was optimism that this time it would be different.

Belgian voters laid out the cards in a way that created several possibilities. De Wever, as the winner of the elections, got the first shot. He tried for a month to form a centre-right coalition with Flemish and francophone parties.

That coalition would have, for the first time in a few decades, not included PS, the socialist party of the francophone south of Belgium.

And that’s where it went wrong. The francophone Christian Democrat party (cdH) did not want to break with its longstanding partner.

But without cdH, De Wever’s centre right coalition would have been too weak on its southern flank.

The impasse could spell another seemingly endless period of attempts at coalition-forming.

As usual, the process is coloured by the structural problem that in the richer and more populous Flanders the dominant political forces are centre-right, while in Wallonia the centre-left is in the lead.

The fact that regional governments are being formed at the same time, and that coalition partners are different in each region, also complicates government talks at the federal level.

On the other hand, nobody wants a repeat of the long stalemate of recent years.

Belgium survived the financial crisis in relatively good shape, but is in need of important structural reforms, and voters might not forgive their politicians if they break the world record on disagreement once again.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland sees increase in migrants from Italy
  2. Norway to build Arctic border fence
  3. Brexit leader Farage addresses Trump rally
  4. Finland holds 'IS fighter' over 2014 Iraq mass killing
  5. Commission allows Portuguese bank recapitalisation
  6. Ex-commissioner: my rules on emissions are not vague
  7. Leading Danish MEP steps down from post
  8. US cooperating with Turkey on Gulen extradition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  2. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  3. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  4. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  5. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  6. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  7. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  8. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  9. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  10. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  11. Counter BalanceThe Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  12. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016