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Belgium in Brief: New Prime Minister, New Government

Credit: Belga

The big news of today – which you have probably seen by now – is the fact that Belgium has reached an agreement on the new government, and announced a new prime minister.

Rather than getting into the minutiae of what that means, today is a day to let the stories speak for themselves.

From the news that an agreement had been reached, to an explainer on the new PM, and the reactions from the opposition – here’s a hyper-focused roundup of the news today.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. What’s new from 1 October?

As usual, the start of a new month brings the introduction of new measures, and the end of old ones. Here are some of the changes taking place from 1 October.

2. Deal reached on Belgium’s new government

Nearly 500 days after Belgian citizens cast their votes, top party negotiators have reached an agreement for a new federal government.

The parties making up the incoming 7-party Vivaldi coalition clinched a deal early on Wednesday morning following marathon talks that stretched out since Tuesday evening.

As top party officials go over the details of the agreement, party leaders have now moved onto the next stage of deciding on the makeup of the future cabinet. Read more.

3. … with Alexander De Croo as the new prime minister

De Croo, incumbent finance minister and member of the Flemish liberal party Open Vld, is Belgium’s new prime minister.

De Croo is set to lead the country’s 7-party Vivaldi coalition of Flemish and Francophone socialists, liberals and greens (spa and PS; MR and Open Vld; Ecolo and Groen) and Flemish Christian democrats (CD&V). Read more.

4. Ok, so who is De Croo?

Alexander De Croo, received by the King. © Belga

De Croo may be 44 years old, but it could be said he has been in politics all his life.

His father is Herman De Croo, a lifelong politician who held numerous ministerial posts, sat as speaker of the federal parliament for eight years, chaired his party (then known as simply VLD) and now holds the elder statesman rank of Minister of State.

So you may not have known who he was before, but you certainly should now. Read more.

5. ‘Ready to organise the resistance’: Flemish right reacts to government agreement

Future opposition parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to react to the news of Belgium’s new government agreement.

During Belgium’s last elections on 26 May 2019, Flanders voted overwhelmingly to the right, with N-VA obtaining just under 25% of the vote and the far-right Vlaams Belang gaining just over 24%. Read more.

6. More than 10,000 coronavirus deaths recorded in Belgium

An average of 1,550.6 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to the latest figures by Sciensano on Wednesday.

Over the 7-day period from 20 to 26 September, this is still a 9% increase compared to a week earlier, but the rise is slowing down considerably. Read more.

7. Belgium unveils 145 million new face masks

Federal ministers Maggie De Block and Philippe De Backer visited on Tuesday one of the locations where medical equipment for protection against the coronavirus pandemic will be stored.

There are 118 million surgical masks and 27 million FFP2 and KN-95 masks stored in Hoogstraten (in the province of Antwerp). The latter two types of masks offer protection not only to the person wearing the mask but also to the people around them. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times