‘Swedish’ centre-right coalition clinches Belgium’s federal government deal

By October 10, 2014EU

By Niels Gheyle

Negotiators of the three Dutch-speaking parties Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), the Christian-Democrats (CD&V) and Liberals (Open VLD) landed the new – so-called ‘Swedish’ – coalition together with the Liberals of the French-speaking party MR after almost 140 days of negotiations, which is a record high for a government occupied predominantly with socio-economic issues. In comparison, the last Belgian formation took 539 days to conclude, which had to deal with Community issues too.

The four parties that form the new centre-right government will have their work cut out, as estimations mount to a €17 billion euro budgetary gap to bridge in the next five years. The Government policy agreement comprises measures such as an increase in the legal pension age, new taxes and a one-time break in the automated indexation system. 

As of today, Belgium also has a Minister for Digital Agenda and Telecom, and a State Secretary for Privacy.  N-VA, the Flemish-nationalist party, received the biggest portfolios after winning the elections in May comfortably. As the only French-speaking party in the federal government, MR received 6 minister portfolios (next to the Prime Minister), as language parity is legally obliged. The general announcement of the nominations was met with criticism from opposition parties, as only 3 of the 14 government posts went to women (there is also 1 female State Secretary). Another striking evolution is the situation around Pieter De Crem: the former Vice-PM and Minister of Defence has now ‘only’ received a State Secretary post for Foreign Trade.

The full composition of the next Belgian government is as follows:

MR (Prime Minister and 6 Ministers)

  • Charles Michel: Prime Minister
  • Didier Reynders: Vice-PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Hervé Jamar: Minister of Budget
  • Willy Borsus: Minister of Agriculture, Self-Employed and SMEs
  • Daniel Bacquelaine: Minister of Pensions
  • Marie-Christine Marghem: Minister of Energy and Sustainable development
  • Jacqueline Galant: Minister of Mobility and NMBS

N-VA (3 Ministers and 2 State Secretaries)

  • Jan Jambon: Vice-PM and Minister of Home Affairs
  • Johan Van Overtveldt: Minister of Finance
  • Steven Vandeput: Minister of Defence
  • Theo Francken: State Secretary for Asylum and Migration
  • Elke Sleurs: State Secretary for Combatting Poverty and Fraud and Science Policy

CD&V (2 Ministers and 1 State Secretary)

  • Kris Peeters: Vice-PM and Minister of Work, Economy and Consumer Affairs
  • Koen Geens: Minister of Justice
  • Pieter De Crem: State Secretary for Foreign Trade

Open VLD (2 Ministers and 1 State Secretary)

  • Alexander De Croo: Vice-PM and Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecoms and Post
  • Maggie De Block: Minister of Health and Social Affairs
  • Bart Tommelein: State Secretary for Social Fraud, Privacy and North Sea