Belgium headed for new government as PM set to resign after general election

10 June 2024 , 07:43
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Belgium headed for new government as PM set to resign after general election
Belgium headed for new government as PM set to resign after general election

The governing coalition of Alexander De Croo lost its ability to form a majority – while an expected surge for far right Vlaams Belang failed to materialise

Belgium is heading for a new government after a general election in which an expected surge for the far right party Vlaams Belang failed to materialise and the outgoing governing coalition headed by liberal prime minister Alexander De Croo lost its ability to form a majority.

Vlaams Belang’s arch rival the nationalist party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) was on course to remain the largest party in Belgium’s parliament on Sunday while De Croo’s liberal party, Open VLD, slumped in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of the country. 

“Our obituaries were written, but we won these elections,” said N-VA leader Bart De Wever, who now looks a good bet to become Belgium’s next prime minister.

De Croo will remain caretaker prime minister until a new coalition, currently involving seven parties, is formed. According to protocol, he will hand in his resignation to Belgium’s King Philippe on Monday at the royal palace in Brussels. 

“This is a particularly difficult evening for us, the signal from the voters has been clear,” De Croo told supporters, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye.

The French-speaking liberal party Mouvement Reformateur was the biggest in Brussels and French-speaking Wallonia, setting the country on course for months of challenging coalition talks.

The result came on a day of triple elections for Belgians who were also voting for regional and European elections, in which the far-right also made the biggest gains, preliminary results showed.

With over 90% of the vote counted, N-VA had a clear lead over Vlaams Belang, with De Croo’s party dropping to the ninth place, partial results published on the interior ministry website showed.

Neither N-VA nor Vlaams Belang – which has anti-immigrant policies and wants to split up Belgium – is part of the current seven-party governing coalition.

Despite picking up some 22% of the vote for the Flemish parliament and 14% for the federal parliament, Vlaams Belang looked set to remain excluded from power.

The anti-immigration Eurosceptics had been hoping that a dominant showing would see them force their way into the regional government, just as ally Geert Wilders had done on the national stage in the Netherlands with a win last year.

Thomas Brown

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