Wilmès faces Belgium’s government formation puzzle

Wilmès faces Belgium’s government formation puzzle
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. Credit: Belga

It's up to Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès to see what she can do to form a federal government, according to Flemish Christian-Democrat party chairman Joachim Coens. 

Wilmès' caretaker government was granted special powers in March to allow it to manage the new coronavirus crisis. Those powers expire at the end of June.

In light of this nearing date, the presidents of the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking socialist parties, Conner Rousseau and Paul Magnette, have talked to different political parties as a first exploratory step towards the formation of a new full-fledged government.

"They contacted everyone again this weekend to finalise their report," Coens told the RTBF. "The most logical thing is that they now pass it on to the Prime Minister. It's up to her to see what's in it and what she can do."

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The Flemish Christian-Democrat party (CD&V) has been accused of remaining "glued" to the Flemish nationalist party N-VA and thus blocking certain coalition possibilities without them.

On Friday, a package of additional measures was validated by the so-called "superkern" (the main ministers and representatives of the 10 parties supporting the special powers). N-VA did not approve this package.

N-VA's non-approval should be relativised, according to Coens. "They gave a signal, it's true, but we shouldn't exaggerate that either," he said.

N-VA "felt it was rather something to be seen in the context of a new government," Coens defended. "It's not that they're against these measures, but they're indicating that it needs to move forward" beyond special powers and towards a new government.

As such, Coens continued his support of N-VA, as "a large, solid majority" is needed both in Wallonia and Flanders, where N-VA is one of the biggest parties, especially in view of the post-coronavirus recovery.

"We never say it's impossible without the N-VA, but it's preferable" to have them on board, Coens said.

The Brussels Times

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