The new Belgian government, led by Alexander De Croo, has taken the oath of office at the royal palace in Brussels, in the presence of King Philippe.
First to take the oath was De Croo himself, who leads a seven-party coalition government, and a team of ministers and junior ministers made up mainly of new faces.
“I swear allegiance to the king, obedience to the Constitution, and to the laws of the Belgian people,” he said, first in Dutch, then also in French and German.
Then came the vice-premiers, led by Pierre-Yves Dermagne of the coalition’s largest party PS. He and his fellow deputies were followed by ministers and secretaries of state.
The swearing-in is a solemn occasion, but none will have missed the gleam in the eyes of Sophie Wilmès above her face-mask, now relieved of the burden of prime ministerial office, and free to go ahead as Belgium’s first-ever woman minister for foreign affairs.
The ministers in general took the oath in both French and Dutch, although some repeated it in German, no native German-speakers being included in the ministerial team.
Later, De Croo posted the ‘family photo’ on Twitter.
🇧🇪 De regering heeft de eed afgelegd.
Met een verstandig crisisbeleid staan we klaar om iedereen te beschermen die het moeilijk heeft. Maar tegelijk ook vertrouwen en vrijheid geven aan mensen die vooruit willen.#begovpic.twitter.com/63p08HdrkP
“With a sensible crisis policy, we are ready to protect all those in difficulty but also to give confidence and momentum to those who want to move forward,” he tweeted.
The new ministerial team includes vice-premiers from each of the seven parties. Apart from De Croo himself, familiar faces are limited to Sophie Wilmès, the prime minister until today, Frank Vandenbroucke, a veteran Flemish socialist politician, and David Clarinval, Wilmès’ budget and science minister.
Vincent Van Quickenborne, mayor of Kortrijk and former minister for administrative simplification, comes in at De Croo’s right hand as their MR party’s deputy PM.
Van Quickenborne, popularly known as Q and Quicky, was De Croo’s main supporter when he became president of the party, and is thought to have been the main influence in getting him to stand for the post – as he recently also did with current president, Egbert Lachaert.