BRUSSELS — For nearly two years, Belgium has been without a formal government, leaving a country that was already divided by language and politics to endure a pandemic with lame-duck caretakers wielding emergency powers.
A fragile coalition government finally took power on Thursday, ending one of the longest political stalemates in the Western world. Cobbled together from seven political parties, the partnership keeps a growing far-right movement at bay for now and should allow the country to finally pass a budget and consider a Covid-19 recovery package.
But the transition, which is set to be formally adopted by lawmakers this weekend, is not without risk. The governing coalition is now so large that any disagreement has the potential to topple it. And ushering in a new government means forcing out the ministers who have overseen the pandemic response — at a time when infections and hospitalizations are rising.
By Marine Strauss and Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium is finally getting a new government on Wednesday, 16 months on from a parliamentary election, with the Belgian king expected to name caretaker finance minister Alexander De Croo as the new prime minister.
Following weeks of talks, seven parties spanning the French-Dutch language divide have agreed to form a governing coalition to replace the caretaker administration of Sophie Wilmes, who led Belgium through six months of the COVID-19 crisis.
Belgium has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 fatalities per capita. The death toll passed 10,000 on Wednesday.
De Croo was set to lead the new government, Belgian newspapers including daily Le Soir reported, citing anonymous sources.
Paul Magnette, leader of the French-speaking Socialists, said on Twitter that he was heading to the palace to form a government with other parties.
Belgium had been under a caretaker administration since the start