Government formation puzzle: Belgium’s two biggest parties agree to look for a compromise
Monday, 20 July 2020
Paul Magnette and Bart De Wever, presidents of the francophone Socialist Party (PS) and the right-wing N-VA, have accepted instructions from the King to take the necessary initiatives for the establishment of a government with a large majority in Parliament, the Royal Palace announced on Monday.
This marks the first time since the federal elections in May 2019 that PS and N-VA are prepared to look for a way to form a government together. N-VA was the biggest winner in Flanders and the PS was the biggest winner in Wallonia on 26 May, resulting in some people saying Belgium was split in two.
De Wever had told Dutch-speaking Radio 1 on Monday that there is no other solution than to find a compromise between the two parties. “We have to try. The elements are on the table. We know very well what we want and what the others want. We’ll see if a compromise is possible. I think it’s worth a try,” De Wever said. Previous attempts at a compromise have been to no avail.
“I am not sure what else we can do, other than have an election,” De Wever said, “but something tells me that the outcome of these elections will not improve the governability of this country, on the contrary.”
Magnette, from his side, became eager to collaborate as his party risked missing out on being in the government. Indeed, the latest idea on the table had been a so-called Arizona coalition, which did not include his party.
Instead, it comprised of liberal parties MR and Open-Vld, Christian-democrat parties CdH and CD&V, N-VA and sp.a, the Dutch-speaking Socialist Party. Arizona is named as such as the parties’ colours are those of the flag of the US state of Arizona.
De Wever and Magnette met with the King at 4:30 PM. A little after 5:00 PM, both Presidents left the palace without a comment.