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Alexander De Croo named prime minister of new federal government
The seven party chairs negotiating the formation of a new federal government, have finally succeeded - 493 days after the 2019 election. While details of the government accord are still emerging, it has been announced that Alexander De Croo of Flemish liberal party Open VLD will be Belgium’s new prime minister.
De Croo, 44, was the federal minister of development co-operation and finance in the previous federal government. The son of former senior politician Herman De Croo, he has also served as the chair of Open VLD, federal pension minister and federal minister charged with telecommunications, the post and the digital agenda.
After presenting their accord to King Philippe at the Royal Palace this morning, De Croo gave a speech in which he thanked Paul Magnette, chair of the French-speaking socialists PS for his patience, drive and sense of humour over the last several days. As the chair of the biggest party in Wallonia following the federal elections of May 2019, Magnette has been working on an accord for the past 16 months.
He also addressed the corona crisis. “We are standing here before you during a time that is very difficult for many, many people,” said De Croo. “We have dealt with some very dark moments due to the insecurity we feel, because schools have had to close, because hundreds of thousands of people have been temporarily out of work. But most of all because we have lost so many loved ones. We have lost family, acquaintances, neighbours. No one has been left unscarred by this situation.”
He continued by saying that many people had risen to the challenge. “They have done more than should have been expected of them. In the care sectors, of course, but also outside of that – teachers, postal workers, people who work in logistics. People who did not stand on the sidelines but who did everything they could to ensure that our country continued to function. To me, that is a sign of one thing, and it is one thing that we don’t say enough: What a fantastic country we live in.”
Belgium is a country, he said, that manages to get through difficulties through the determination and co-operation of its people. “We are now in need of a very strong plan,” he said. “I am convinced that with this new, fully functioning government we can provide more of a direction, win more trust and instil a long-term vision. Our country has faced fires before, and we have always emerged stronger for it.”
He is well aware he says, “that many people will say ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’, and I get that. It’s up to us to prove that we will work hard, that we will set the right priorities”.
The Vivaldi coalition – named after the Italian composers famed Four Seasons, a reference to the four parties involved – is made up of four political parties, three of them from both sides of the language border. The Flemish parties are Open VLD, Christian-democrats CD&V, socialists S.PA and greens Groen, and the French-speaking parties are liberals MR, socialist PS and greens Ecolo.
Notably missing from the coalition is N-VA, the biggest winner on the Flemish side of the 2019 federal election. Chair Bart De Wever was key to early negotiations, together with PS. When those negotiations ultimately failed, the other parties chose to come together and work out a deal to form a majority coalition.
“This accord is a starting point, a starting point for doing politics differently. With more pragmatism and more co-operation and mostly, with more respect,” said De Croo. “We are choosing to not emphasise our differences but to emphasise what we have in common.”
De Croo will take his oath of office tomorrow, the deadline for the forming of the new government, as the interim federal government led by Sophie Wilmès of French-speaking party MR is scheduled to come to an end on 1 October.
Further details of the federal government accord will be announced later today and tomorrow, including who will be given federal ministerial posts.
Photo ©Dirk Waem/BELGA