BRUSSELS – Prime Minister to address parliament

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) will address the Belgian parliament to ask for support for a fully-fledged minority government on Tuesday (17 March) with a vote to follow on Thursday (19 March), after the coronavirus led to a small political breakthrough over the weekend.

Read also: Belgium struggles to bridge differences amid coronavirus crisis

After the main political parties agreed to grant the current caretaker government under Wilmès permission to continue with special powers for the next six months to bridge the crisis, the king appointed her formateur and asked her to form a government team.

It is expected that it would be a smaller government with the reduction of a number of state secretaries. A majority in Thursday’s confidence vote is nearly certain, too.

Together with Wilmes’ liberal MR, Christian Democrat CD&V and Socialist SP.A are expected to do the same, the support of the Greens and the Socialist PS is certain.

The Flemish-nationalist N-VA is likely not to give confidence. Extreme-right Vlaams Belang called the Wilmes’ government a ‘political fraud’, but said it will support “meaningful measures to stem this corona crisis, both medically and economically, while monitoring it that the powers of attorney strictly limit themselves to dealing with the crisis”.

Government officials are meanwhile expecting that after the government is confirmed this week, it will impose even stricter measures to mitigate the coronavirus outbrea, including the closure of borders and parks as well as further public life restrictions.

On Monday (16 March), Belgium’s King Filip made a rare address to the nation on Monday about the coronavirus outbreak, referring to the measures taken he said the population’s “attitude taken on this is essential and can save lives”.

(Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)

 

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