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New federal ministers and state secretaries take oath of office

13:06 01/10/2020

The ministers and state secretaries of Belgium’s new federal government have been announced. The government has made history with an even number of women filling the posts for the first time.

The announcement that a federal government had successfully formed, 493 days after the elections of May 2019, was made yesterday. Alexander De Croo of the Flemish liberal party Open VLD will be the country’s next prime minister for the next four years.

The so-called Vilvaldi coalition is made up of four parties, three of them on 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.

It is the first time Groen has been part of the federal government majority coalition and so the first time they have held posts as federal ministers or state secretaries.

The most ministerial positions went to PS, the party with the most votes in this coalition. CD&V, MR and Ecolo have three each, and the rest of the posts were spread out among the other parties. The 19 new ministers are:

Vincent Van Quickenborne / Open VLD  Minister of justice and North Sea concerns
Van Quickenborne is currently mayor of Kortrijk and, until today, was a member of the federal parliament. In his career, he has served as federal minister of pensions and entrepreneurship as well as state secretary of administrative efficiency

Eva De Bleeker / Open VLD  Budget state secretary
De Bleeker is an MEP and city councillor tasked with sport, energy, housing and education in Hoeilaart, as well as chair of VLD Women

Annelies Verlinden / CD&V Minister of interior affairs
A relative newcomer to politics, Verlinden is a lawyer with the Brussels firm DLP Piper. She is known for her defense of the Belgian state in the Arco shareholder case. She served as a city councillor in Schoten from 2006 to 2012

Vincent Van Peteghem / CD&V  Minister of finance
Van Peteghem was a city councillor in De Pinte, East Flanders, for six years before being before being elected mayor last year. He also served three years as a federal MP

Sammy Mahdi / CD&V  Asylum and migration state secretary
The youngest member of the new government, Mahdi is the chair of Jong CD&V as well as a city councillor in Vilvoorde. He is the first migration secretary with a migration background; his father came to Belgium in the 1970s from Iraq

Frank Vandenbroucke / SP.A  Minister of public health and social affairs
This is a comeback for Vandenbroucke, who left politics nine years ago to become a lecturer. Previous to that, he had a long career with the socialist party, including Flemish education minister, federal labour minister and federal pensions minister

Meryame Kitir / SP.A  Minister of co-operation development and urban affairs
A self-made woman, Kitir was active in the socialist union of Ford Genk, where she worked. She was recruited into politics, serving as a city councillor in Maasmechelen and federal MP. She has served as the leader of the fraction since 2015 and as a city councillor in Genk since last year

Petra De Sutter / Groen  Minister of state-owned companies and the civil service
A medical doctor, De Sutter is a professor at Ghent University and head of the department of reproductive medicine. She served in the federal senate for five years and is a city councillor in Horebeke, East Flanders. Until today, she was also an MEP. De Sutter is the first transgendered person to hold a ministerial post

Tinne Van der Straeten / Groen  Minister of energy
Van der Straeten served as Groen’s spokesperson before joining the city council in Koekelberg in 2006, where she is now in charge of mobility and public works. She was a federal MP from 2007-2010

Ludivine Dedonder / PS  Minister of defence
The first woman to become minister of defence, Dedonder was a city councillor in Tournai before becoming a federal MP last year

Pierre-Yves Dermagne / PS  Minister of labour and the economy
Dermagne has served as minister of housing, government affairs and sport in the Wallonia government

Thomas Dermine / PS  State secretary of science policy and post-corona stimulus programme
A new and temporary post, Dermine is responsible for getting the economy back on track during and following the coronavirus crisis. And economist and head of the Emile Vandervelde Institute, he has never held political office, instead chosen for his experience in economic recovery. He led the recovery transition programme in Charleroi

Karine Lalieux / PS Minister of pensions and social integration
Lalieux is a federal MP, chair of CPAS and city councillor in Brussels-City. She previously served as city councillor in charge of culture and tourism in Brussels-City

Sophie Wilmès / MR  Minister of foreign affairs
This name is familiar to us by now: Wimès served as prime minister Belgium’s interim government from October 2019 up until today. She was the country’s first woman prime minister, as well as it youngest ever at age 45. Previous to that, Wilmes served as federal budget minister and minister of science policy

David Clarinval / MR  Minister of agriculture and SMEs
Clarinval has served as mayor of Bièvre and provincial councillor in Namur, as well as federal minister in charge of the budget, science policy and civil services

Mathieu Michel / MR State secretary for the digital agenda, privacy and administrative efficiency
A former provincial councillor for Walloon-Brabant, Michel has also served a city councillor of mobility and public works in Jodoigne

Zakia Khattabi / Ecolo Minister for the environment, climate crisis and sustainable development
Khattabi was a member of the Brussels parliament and senate, where she served as fraction leader. She then joined the Ixelles city council before moving on to be a federal MP last year. She is co-chair of Ecolo

Georges Gilkinet / Ecolo  Minister of mobility and rail services SNCB
Gilkinet has been a federal MP since 2007 and co-leader of the Ecolo/Groen fraction since 2018. He served as chair of the finance and budget commission for two years

Sara Schlitz / Ecolo Equal opportunities and diversity state secretary
Schlitz served as a city councillor in Liege before becoming a federal MP in 2018. At 33, she is the second-youngest person to be given a post in the new government

The chair of the Chamber of Representatives, meanwhile, is Eliane Tillieux of PS. While federal elections happen every five years, this government took so long to form that it will have less than four years in office. The next federal election is in 2024.

Photo ©Frederic Sierakowski/BELGA

Written by Flanders Today