After a wait of 493 days since the last federal election, Belgium has a new prime minister: Alexander De Croo.
De Croo is 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.
De Croo has long stood in the shadow of his father (whose own father was in local politics), and suffered for the association when he came into politics after a business education and a brief career as a business consultant.
The notion that he was no more than a ‘son of’ was not helped by his youthful good looks, or by the fact that many of his contemporaries, including former prime minister and fellow liberal Charles Michel, were also the sons of prominent politicians.
De Croo achieved a measure of self-determination when he took over the presidency of his party in 2009, a post he held for three years. His major achievement during that time was to withdraw his party from the government coalition headed by Yves Leterme in April 2010, leading to elections in June in which he stood for the Senate.
In 2012 he followed his colleague and friend Vincent Van Quickenborne as deputy prime minister, a post which he continued to hold until today. His entry into the federal chamber came after the elections in 2014, when he scored the highest tally of personal votes in East Flanders.
From 2014 to 2018 he was minister for development cooperation and the digital agenda, as well as telecommunications and post – a ministry his father had held before him.
In 2018 he held onto development cooperation, and moved to become finance minister, another post his father had held. And today he eclipsed his father at last, rising to take the one job Herman De Croo never had.
As for the man personally, not much is known to the general public. He is married with two children, who remain well out of the public eye.
Early on he was considered quiet, even shy, in contrast to his gregarious father. He has a reputation for mastery of his brief and surrounding himself with competent collaborators. One of those who has been at his side all the way is Van Quickenborne, now mayor of Kortrijk. The smart money at the moment is on him becoming deputy PM in De Croo’s place.