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Belgium to Form Government, 493 Days after Vote

Belgian political leaders were to announce on Wednesday the formation of a new seven-party coalition government, after 21 months with no ruling majority.

Some 493 days after inconclusive federal elections, and on the day when Belgium's reported coronavirus death toll passed 10,000, pre-dawn talks finally bore fruit.

A source close to the negotiations confirmed to AFP that the new coalition and the name of the next prime minister would be announced during the day.

"The final details of the deal are being read over, and discussions are continuing on the cast list," he said.

Belgium, which has a long history of political instability, went without a government for 541 days in 2010 and 2011.

Alexander de Croo, a 44-year-old Flemish liberal and finance minister in the caretaker government, is the frontrunner for the top job.

If confirmed, he will replace French-speaker Sophie Wilmes who has served as acting premier during the epidemic but never wielded a parliamentary majority.

The new coalition will bring together two socialist parties -- one French-speaking, and one Flemish -- two liberal parties and two sets of greens.

The CD&V, a party of Flemish Christian democrats will also join, but the larger Flemish nationalist N-VA, which was in government between 2014 and 2018 will leave power.

The draft agreement still has to be validated by each of the seven parties, probably by Thursday, when the House of Representatives will sit to welcome the new cabinet. 

The country has been governed by a minority coalition since December 2018, when the N-VA abruptly left the government of liberal Charles Michel. 

The legislative elections of 26 May 2019 saw gains by various green and fringe groupings, further fragmenting the political landscape and making it harder to build a majority around the traditional parties.

Source: Agence France Presse


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