Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us