Monday

30th Jan 2023

Belgian coalition negotiations collapse

Six months down the line since its June election, the latest attempts to form a government in Belgium have collapsed.

On Saturday (1 December), Yves Leterme, Flemish Christian-Democrat and prime minister-designate, informed the King that he was stepping down from the post of official government talks negotiator after his final formation proposal failed to win support among all the parties.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The day before, his proposal, which included the highly sensitive issue of devolution of powers to the regions, was rejected by his proposed coalition partners, the French-speaking Christian-Democrats.

Liberals on both sides of the language border did provide their support, as well as Mr Leterme's own group of Flemish Christian-Democrats and their separatist partner.

Belgium now has to wait on the King to decide who to appoint next to negotiate a government. But what the King can do to solve the deepening political crisis is much less clear.

He has already appointed four negotiators in the past six months, with Mr Leterme being appointed twice.

It is expected that he will first hold a round of consultations with a series of experienced politicians before making a decision.

Analysts agree that the agreement between the three parties can be used as a starting point to find a fourth partner that would replace the French-speaking Christian-Democrats.

But there is no consensus about which party this should be, nor on whether it would be any easier to convince another party than to persuade the French-speaking Christian-Democrats to give up their resistance to deep state reform.

Another opening is that Socialists on both side of the language border have made clear that they are now willing - under certain stringent conditions - to participate in the coalition talks.

The rising number of problems is also increasing the pressure on the negotiators, with the organisation of Belgian enterprises warning of damage both to the country's reputation and to its economy

It also remains to be seen whether the outgoing government of prime minister Guy Verhofstadt will have the right to sign the new European treaty in Lisbon later this month.

Another idea now being mooted is to hold new elections, but the Constitutional Court has already questioned whether this is possible, with certain issues concerning an electoral district around Brussels remaining open.

Long formation negotiations are fairly common in Belgium which is deeply divided along linguistic lines, but it has never taken so long to form a government.

Broadly, the Flemish side is pushing for more devolution of powers but the French-speaking side believes this is a bid to break up the country.

The current formation period is the longest in Belgian history, breaking the previous record of 148 days in early November.

But Belgium is still a month away from the European record, established in the Netherlands in 1977. It took the then Dutch Socialists and Christian-Democrats 208 days to form a government.

Belgium votes for new leader

Belgium will get a new prime minister after the conservatives - led by the Christian Democrats - defeated the socialist-liberal coalition in a move that will see the end of Guy Verhofstadt's eight-year term in office.

Belgium still struggling to form government

Three months on from elections, Belgium is still struggling to form a new government, as Flemish and French-speaking parties remain at odds about the need for far-reaching state reforms – including the highly sensitive issue of devolution.

Belgian government coalition talks collapse

Five weeks of negotiation on forming a centre-right government in Belgium have collapsed in failure with rival French- and Dutch-speaking regions unable to agree on a division of power.

Belgium breaks own government formation record

Belgium has set a new national record for the longest period without a new government as parties are still trying to bridge their opposing views on state reforms five months after elections. In the meantime, Flemish parties have given their French-speaking counterparts an ultimatum.

Belgium forms interim government

Exactly 192 days since the June election, Belgian political parties have finally succeeded in forming a new government, albeit only a temporary one.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  2. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  3. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  5. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  6. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us