Federal government: De Wever I, or Di Rupo II?

Summary

Finding French-speaking partners will be tough for Bart De Wever in forming a federal government coalition

Tradition or change

Shaping the federal government may be a painstaking process, but N-VA wants to avoid a long crisis. In spite of his victory, N-VA party president Bart De Wever had probably hoped for a different result. His party is by far the largest at the federal level, yet a coalition without N-VA also remains possible. The parting coalition has even gained two seats.

It is up to the King to decide who makes the first move. N-VA is the obvious choice, but there is also a tradition that the prime minister is someone from the largest political family in the whole country. That is still the socialists, even after some loss for prime minister Elio Di Rupo’s French-speaking PS.

N-VA’s spectacular result in Flanders cannot be ignored, though. Leaving this party out from the start is impossible. But who wants to enter a coalition with De Wever? On the Flemish side, that would be CD&V and Open VLD, provided they get what they want on the Flemish level, too.

Finding French-speaking partners will be much harder, as they both fear and loath the nationalist N-VA’s programme and leadership. This explains De Wever’s rather moderate tone on election night. For the French-speaking liberals and Christian-democrats, entering an N-VA-led government is like dancing with the devil, carrying a risk of losing out in the next election. N-VA itself prefers a government without PS, but that might be harder to realise than one would expect.

Either way, N-VA has stated it wants to avoid “a long political crisis” – a repeat of the 2010 formation that lasted 541 days.

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.