18 Mar, 2020

Belgian government formation shadowed by COVID-19

On 17 March, Sophie Wilmès took oath as Prime Minister of the new Belgian Government at the Royal Palace in Brussels. Since October 2018, a caretaker minority government has held office in Belgium, and has continued to do so even after the country’s federal elections in May 2019. As attempts to form government coalitions have failed, the scope of the caretaker government’s responsibilities and actions has been limited.

On 14 and 15 March, all parties from center-left to center-right gathered to try and form a new government. These discussions resulted into the appointment of Prime Minister Wilmès to form the new government by King Philipp of Belgium. All the Ministers of the previous caretaker government continue to hold on to their portfolios, which means that both ALDE members in Belgium – Mouvement Réformateur (MR) and Open Vld – continue to play a key role in the government.

After the Wilmès II government took oath, the Prime Minister gave the government a statement at the Belgian Parliament that – due to the safety measures – was only attended by Group leaders, Vice-Ministers and the Speaker of the House.

In her statement, Prime Minister Wilmès announced that her government will have full powers on health care, economy and law enforcement, so that it can act and react to the on-going Coronavirus outbreak. These measures are put in place only temporarily and will be reviewed after six months, after which the Belgian Parliament will regain its controlling power and evaluate the situation.

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