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Sophie Wilmès to remain in power until 1 October

13:45 14/09/2020

Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès will continue to lead the country until 1 October, two weeks after the original date set six months ago of 17 September.

The announcement was made at a virtual debate, held by her Mouvement Réformateur (MR) Francophone liberal party to mark the return of the political season.

All seven Belgian political parties gave their seal of approval to this proposal. The Belgian parliament will not now pronounce on a new government until next month.

Wilmès explained the delay is necessary as demands linked to the Covid-19 crisis have overtaken the negotiation calendar. A full government is essential to deal with the pandemic in the next fortnight, she said. Indeed, there are even fears of a "second wave" of Covid-19. Numbers recorded by Belgian research institution Sciensano have risen sharply recently, to reach nearly 1,000 daily cases in the last three days.

And the announcement of a positive Covid test result for liberal MP Egbert Lachaert, who is in charge of the government formation negotiations, put paid to the chance of a "live" meeting on Sunday. It was another setback in the move towards the so-called Vivaldi coalition – the Belgium’s main party colours representing the four seasons like the famous Vivaldi piece.

Wilmès has said she can support this coalition. Meanwhile, she told MPs: “What our country needs above all is a federal team that holds a stable majority. A team capable of proposing and finalising with parliament an ambitious redeployment strategy.”

The Vivaldi government would bring together MPs from the Ecolo and Green, socialists, PS and sp.a (red), liberals (MR and Open Vld - blue) and Christian Democrats (orange) parties (CD&V and CDH).

The coalition would likely leave out the biggest Flemish player, the Flemish nationalists of N-VA.

Photo: Olivier Matthys/Belga

Written by Liz Newmark