New Belgian PM banks on unity to 'get Belgium working again'

New Belgian PM banks on unity to 'get Belgium working again'
Parti Socialiste leader Paul Magnette (left) and Incoming Belgian Premier Alexander De Croo address reporters. © Belga

Belgium's incoming prime minister said he will bank on teamwork and pragmatism to bring about a "new way of doing politics" in a country beset by debt, fierce partisanship and plummeting public trust in authorities.

In his first address as the designated prime minister, Alexander De Croo said "teamwork" and "mutual respect" were the key for the seven negotiating parties to clinch the deal and for the so-called Vivaldi government.

De Croo said that the agreement was "a start" for a government with "more pragmatism, more living together, more working together, and more respect for each other."

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"This is a starting point for a new way of doing politics, with more respect for each other and for different opinions," he told reporters, adding that all hands on deck would be needed in the coming years to get "our society and our country working again."

Speaking alongside fellow government formator, the Parti Socialiste's (PS ) Paul Magnette, De Croo said that the incoming so-called Vivaldi government would work for a country of "prosperity and solidarity" where "everybody can have real opportunities."

Both officials sent strong signals of a willingness to surpass Belgium's recurrent linguistic and left-right divides to regain public confidence, stressing they would continue to embrace the spirit of cooperation which they said was instrumental in bringing about the government agreement.

"We are now exiting 16 months of an excessively long and profound political crisis which damaged public confidence in government," Magnette said, echoing De Croo's calls for political "serenity" and "respect."

The Francophone PS leader said that the next step would now be to designate a cabinet which will know how to work together, citing the need to tackle pressing challenges such as the climate transition.

Set to be sworn in on Thursday morning, the incoming government is set to face fierce resistance from opposition parties, many of whom began gearing up just moments after the government deal was announced.

Flanders' biggest player, the nationalist N-VA, was sidelined from the coalition amid recurrent disagreements and its leading figures have already hit out at the Vivaldi coalition as "anti-democratic."

Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, who scored major gains in the elections, has also said that they are "ready" to resist while left-wing workers parties have smashed the new government as just a rebrand of the previous liberal government led by Charles Michel.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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