International

A (new) government, till when?

Belgium has its government, at last. After 541 days, the country has a full-fledged government ending up to the longest and deepest political crisis of its contemporary history.

A tripartite government composed by liberal, social-Christians and socialists ruled by Elio di Rupo, the still current PS leader and first French speaker to be Prime minister since 1978. The future Belgian head of government will have to implement the sixth reform of the State – reinforcing the federal framework in favour of the regions and linguistic communities – but also face with the current economic crisis.

The future Rue de la Loi tenant was recently welcomed by a huge trade-unions demonstration in the framework of a mobilisation day against the austerity plan, in order to denounce the ruling government plan which has just taken the oath to King Albert II. It is a first test for the Di Rupo team which some people already speculate on its life expectancy.

Indeed, although Belgium has now a government, disagreements within the coalition existed and still exist. It was the case during the negotiations concerning the budget in which the Liberals (French speaking as Dutch speaking) did not hesitate to damage the negotiations provoking the resignation of Di Rupo, as governmental former. Besides, there existed a reciprocal mistrust between coalition members themselves, a mistrust which may provoke chain reactions as in April 2010 when the Dutch speakers Liberals quitted the Leterme Government, prelude to his resignation and to current situation.

Bart de Wever, the NV-A (New Flemish Alliance) leader

What is more, it is highly probable the future opposition will not do favours to the new Belgian leader. An opposition gathering the most virulent elements of the Belgian political stage – except Ecologists – and which is going to give Elio di Rupo a hard time. This is the promise made by the Flemish independence movement led by Bart de Wever, now the main opposition political force, and also by the ex-FDF party (French speaking federalists) of Olivier Maingain who are to bet on the coming instability within the coalition to get more votes for the next federal elections.

Belgium is now writing a new of his History with a respectable man, respected as the French speakers than the Flemish. A non-significant data when it is known the one is going to live at Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat – the Belgian PM headquarters in Brussels – has important difficulties to speak in Dutch and will have to make important efforts to seduce his Northern compatriots. In the same time, he will have to embody and make this Belgium 2.0 he has just released credible. If he succeeds, Elio di Rupo will maybe experience a fate as Jean-Luc Dehaene or Guy Verhofstadt experienced in the past, what is to say a long government and a long political stability. Otherwise, he might experience the same fate as Yves Leterme experienced – a long instability – which it would not be very good news for Belgium.

In other words, everything depends on the bow tie-man now!

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