Sixteen months after the elections (May 26, 2019) and after 650 days without a stable government – before those elections, the last one went bankrupt on December 21, 2018 – Belgium seems to have reached the goal. A coalition of seven political formations, which brings together four ideological families (socialists, liberals, ecologists and Christian Democrats) will formally take control of the country today if the negotiation that started a week ago and which is being exhausting in this last pull is culminated successfully.
The ‘Vivaldi coalition’ (the four families, ‘The four seasons’ of the Italian composer), as the experiment has been baptized, will govern until 2024 after obtaining approval today in a session at the headquarters of the European Parliament; granted on an exceptional basis so that the 150 deputies of the federal Parliament can attend, complying with the distancing measures required by the pandemic. 87 would cover the future Executive.
The end is near, but in Belgium anything can happen. Negotiating tradition and the vertigo of electoral repetitions (not one since 1831) do not allow us to give anything for settled. In fact, the prime minister’s name has yet to be chosen. The President of the Walloon Socialists, Paul Magnette, and that of the Flemish Liberals (Open VLD), Alexander De Croo, the last of a long list of ‘mediators’ commissioned by King Felipe to assemble the puzzle, they are those who dispute that position.
They will relieve the current acting prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, head of an emergency Cabinet set up to combat the pandemic. It renewed in June and has expanded its ‘special powers’ (under the umbrella of a melting pot of ten political parties) until tomorrow. She herself has given up on staying ahead of the new project, although his party, the reformist MR, is part of a project in which, in a private capacity, none of its partners got more than 10% of the votes in the last elections.
The Flemish opposition
Outside, the Flemish nationalists of the N-VA and the ultras, also Flemish, of Vlaams Belang, the two most voted groups in the north of this country that does not reach 11.5 million inhabitants. Relegated, they do not resign. From the N-VA, its leader, the mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, is already demanding a change in the electoral system that gives power to the most voted formation, which would lead to a confederal system (nationalists to the north, socialists to the south). And from Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), on Sunday a show of force was promoted in Brussels with a march of thousands of vehicles (some identified with Nazi symbols) opposed to ‘Vivaldi’.
At the beginning of August, Belgium pulverized the 589 days without a government between 2010 and 2011 with which it broke the world record. And this point has been reached after a long list of ‘mediators’ chosen by the King of the Belgians (up to 36 hearings, between May 30, 2019 and this Monday), frustrated negotiations, attempts doomed to failure (such as the starring socialists and N-VA) and even suspension of the process due to the positive of Covid-19 of one of those mediators (the Flemish liberal Egbert Lachaert) who put the Royal House on alert.
Combining the demands of each and every one of the seven partners of the Government has become an immense task. Among the agreements already closed is a minimum pension of 1,500 euros net, as well as the improvement of other benefits.