Government formation: Talks begin on turning ideas into agreements

The political parties negotiating the formation of a federal and several regional governments have been making good progress since the 9 June elections. They have a good idea about what needs to be done, but this now has to be transposed into an agreement.

At the Flemish level, the talks are between Flemish nationalists N-VA, socialists Vooruit and Christian democrat CD&V. At the Walloon level, they are between liberals MR and Christian democrats Les Engagés. At the federal, all five parties sit round the table.

In all three negotiations, the negotiators have listened to different interest groups and experts, to hear their concerns and priorities. Those talks have indicated what the priorities will be in the coming years.

Poor public finances are a priority at the federal level, and for the upcoming Walloon government. The deficit and debt are unsustainable, and the renewed EU budget control means that urgent action is unavoidable.

Lack of workforce

Other talks at the federal level were about more money for the army, nuclear energy and the cost of healthcare and pensions. At the Flemish level, talks were mostly about getting more people into work. Today, unemployment isn’t the problem, a lack of workforce is. Flanders also wants to strengthen its industrial base. The difficult topics of climate, environment and agriculture are waiting to be addressed.

After these consultations, the political parties now have to write governmental programmes. They will probably prefer to do this in detail, to avoid too many arguments during their mandates.

It’s expected that the Walloon government could be ready very soon, even in the coming days. Flanders will need a little more time, followed by the federal government.

Local elections

Brussels will need more time to form its government. It consists of two parts, a Flemish one and a larger francophone part. Both are formed separately, but in both, there is gridlock about who should be in the coalition.

On the francophone side, socialist PS should be included, but they are in opposition at the other levels. On the Flemish side, Team Fouad Ahidar is an important party, representing large parts of Brussels' Muslim population, but are seen by some as being too radical.

The parties want to move fast, to show voters their determination, and because local elections are near. With elections for municipalities and provinces taking place on 13 October, parties will want to take unpopular decisions about budget cuts well before that date.


#FlandersNewsService | Federal pre-formateur Bart De Wever (left) and Flemish formateur Matthias Diependaele, both N-VA ​ © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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