The latest developments in the so-far sterile negotiations to give Belgium a new federal government has nudged parties in the direction of an all-new potential formation: a so-called Arizona coalition.
More than 400 days after the elections took place last May, parties have so far failed to come up with a coalition capable of bringing together the deeply polarised voters on either side of the country’s language border.
The would-be Arizona alliance is the latest in a series of party coalitions which have so far failed to make the cut, with talks collapsing continuously since formation efforts began last summer.
It would be composed of the liberal MR (Francophone) and Open Vld (Flemish) parties, of the Christian centre-right CD&V (Flemish) and CDH (Francophone) and of the sp.a and the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), the Flemish socialists and right-wing nationalists, respectively.
The Parti Socialiste (PS), the sp.a’s Francophone counterpart and the biggest party in Wallonia, is notably absent from the newest coalition proposal.
After being floated by different party representatives, the name Arizona coalition caught on in the media, inspired by the flag of the US state of Arizona, which has all the colours of the parties in the line-up, keeping up with a tradition in Belgian politics to use parties’ colours to design a ruling coalition.
The leaders of the Open Vld, the CD&V and the MR, the latest of a string of royal informants appointed by King Philippe to lead the formation efforts, have their eyes set on this new government configuration, which would hold a slim parliamentary majority (75 out of 150 seats).
They are currently focusing their efforts on getting the sp.a and the and the CD&V’s Francophone counterpart, the CDH, around the table, after both parties refused to join talks on Monday.
Keeping up with US references to US, the president of the Francophone regionalist DéFi party (mainly active in Brussels and left out of the federal government equation) recently suggested naming the coalition after the carved-out landscape of the Grand Canyon instead.
“The Arizona coalition looks wobbly to me, not because of the number of seats [it would have] (77), but because of its composition: the losers,” DéFi President François De Smet said.
“This coalition should not be named Arizona, but Grand Canyon — to honour the extremely low scores of the parties which would make it up,” he added.