De Wever first to visit the palace, more women voted into parliament

Summary

As party leaders are invited for the traditional post-election meeting with the king, post-election analysis shows an increase of women in parliament and in budgets for parties that made gains

 
N-VA party president Bart De Wever met with King Filip yesterday

“The situation is complex,” says De Wever

N-VA party president Bart De Wever was the first politician invited to meet the king following the elections on Sunday. The invitation to the palace yesterday came shortly after prime minister Elio Di Rupo had left the building after handing in his resignation.

King Filip then followed protocol by asking De Wever, as leader of the largest party in the federal parliament, to meet with him to discuss possible ways of forming a coalition government.

The king will now meet with all the party leaders (apart from the far-right Vlaams Belang) and then most likely appoint an informateur to lead the coalition formation. It has been suggested that he could be ready to appoint an informateur by tomorrow. An agreement could then theoretically be reached within a few days (although the last attempt to form a federal government famously dragged on for 541 days).

De Wever insists that he doesn’t want interminable negotiations this time round. “We don’t want a long crisis,” he told the party faithful in his victory speech on Sunday. “On the contrary, we want to take the initiative to see what is possible.”

But he admitted on Monday that “the situation is complex”.

De Wever has already announced that he will first focus his attention on forming a coalition in the Flemish parliament – where his party is also the largest – before turning to the federal level. “We are now the biggest party in the land,” he told his followers. “We asked the people to trust us. One in three Flemings gave us their trust.”

N-VA come top in European election results

Bart de Wever’s party also emerged as the biggest Flemish party in the European elections, held on the same day as the federal and regional elections. His party gained 26.9% of the votes, securing them four seats in the European Parliament, where they previously held just one.  

N-VA will be represented by MEPs Johan van Overtveldt, Helga Stevens, Louis Ide and Mark Demesmaeker. The liberals Open VLD are the next largest party at the European level, with three seats (Guy Verhofstadt, Annemie Neyts and Karlos Callens), while the Christian Democrats CD&V now have just two MEPs (Marianne Thyssen and Ivo Belet).

The Flemish socialists are even weaker with just one MEP (Kathleen Van Brempt), while Groen held on to one seat (Bart Staes), despite increasing their share of the vote.

One of the big surprises of the European election was the failure of CD&V to secure the votes needed to get former finance minister Steven Vanackere a seat in the European Parliament.

More women take up seats in parliament

The elections saw more women voted into both the Flemish and federal parliaments, with the socialists SP.A and the Christian democrats CD&V leading the way. There are now 69 men and 55 women in the Flemish parliament, with both SP.A and CD&V now having more women than men.

SP.A also has more women than men in the federal parliament, while Open VLD has an equal number of men and women. 

Some parties get richer

The winning parties will soon see a boost to their income, according to a report carried out by two researchers at KU Leuven. They have calculated that the N-VA will see its annual income rise by €4 million to €12.2 million, due to the increase in vote share. The party will also gain 50 extra parliamentary assistants, bringing the total staff level to 160.

Groen will also get a boost to its income and parliamentary staff, while parties that lost support will see a cut in the level of government support they receive.

Photo by Francois Lenoir / REUTERS