Charles Michel replaces De Wever as informateur

Summary

The formation of a new federal government continues with party consultations, while Flemish entrepreneurs prefer a long political crisis over a repeat of the previous coalition

Talks to start “with a blank sheet”

After Bart De Wever’s resignation as informateur in forming a new federal government last week, the king appointed Charles Michel, chair of the French-speaking liberal party MR, as the new informateur. Michel will begin talks, he says, “with a blank sheet”.

On Friday, Michel (pictured right) met unions and employers’ organisations. On Saturday, he spoke with acting prime minister Elio Di Rupo. Today he was due to meet De Wever (pictured left), his predecessor as informateur and leader of Flanders’ largest party, N-VA. Later, Di Rupo is expected again, this time representing the French-speaking socialists PS, along with party president Paul Magnette. A report from Michel is expected by Friday.

Meanwhile, Flemish entrepreneurs fear a repeat of the parting “tripartite” coalition – with Christian-democrats, socialists and liberals, but without N-VA. According to a poll by Unizo, which represents Flanders’ self-employed, 72% would rather not see a tripartite, even if that means a long crisis. More than half would boycott such a coalition by postponing investments, not creating extra jobs or even sending production abroad.

In related news, Marianne Thyssen (CD&V) has the support of SP.A, N-VA and possibly also Open VLD as Belgium’s new European commissioner. Thyssen, an MEP since 1991, has not declared herself as a candidate yet. Belgium’s representative in the European Commission is traditionally decided as part of the federal government talks. 

Photo: Corbis

Belgian government

Belgium is a federal state made up of three regions and three communities, based on language (Dutch, French and German). The federal level is responsible for issues such as justice, defence, finances and foreign affairs – matters that affect the entire country. Belgium is also a constitutional monarchy.
Regions - The regions are comparable to American states or German Länder. They are geographical entities, responsible for matters related to their territory, such as public works, environment and economy. Belgium’s three regions are the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region.
Communities - Communities are responsible for matters that directly affect residents, such as education, welfare and culture. Belgium’s three communities are the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German Community.
Flanders - Although regions and communities do not overlap exactly, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community have merged into the Flemish government. Its official language is Dutch. The Flemish Parliament sits in Brussels, which is the official capital city of Flanders (as well as Belgium).
11

population of Belgium in millions of people, with 6.2 million living in Flanders.

6

number of state reforms that have resulted in the federal system as it is today.

4

number of years for which the federal House of Representatives and the Senate are elected.