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The Belgian government has fallen: King Philippe to make the most important decision of his reign

On Tuesday evening, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel offered the resignation of the government to King Philippe. His Majesty has decided to keep his decision in deliberation.

Last week King Philippe accepted the resignation of one party of the government, N-VA. The government then continued as a minority government with the remaining parties MR, Open VLD and CD&V. Coalition partner N-VA left the government after a dispute over a Migration pact.

Prime Minister Charles Michel tried to find the necessary support for his minority government in parliament. This evening it became clear that he was unable to convince the other parties to have confidence in him. The socialists (SP.A) and greens (Groen & ECOLO) filed for a motion of no confidence tonight. The Prime Minister then had 48 hours to find partners for his minority government. However Prime Minister Michel decided to hand in the resignation of the government.

After making the announcement in parliament, Prime Minister Michel drove to the Castle of Laeken where he was received by King Philippe. It was rather unusual that the monarch received the PM at his private residence, the Castle of Laeken for political talks instead of the Palace of Brussels. This was, however, because it was a very last minute decision and King Philippe was already at home, probably enjoying some family time.

According to the Constitution, the Prime Minister has to ask the King to accept the resignation of the government. At that point, King Philippe had three options. First, he could deny the resignation if the King thought the Prime Minister would be able to sort things out and find a majority government. Second, he could accept the resignation which would result in the minority government continuing until the next elections (in May) but they could not make new decisions, only finishing what they started. Or this could also result in new elections but only if the parliament votes an additional motion of no confidence. Or third, he could keep his decision in deliberation.

Only an hour after Prime Minister Michel arrived at the Castle, the King announced that he would keep his decision in deliberation. The King will keep the decision in deliberation for a couple of days. As of tomorrow, His Majesty will consult the various party leaders. After the various consultations he will make a decision of what is to come. This will be King Philippe’s most important decision so far in his five years of reigning.

It is expected that the King will accept the resignation of the government and that the minority government will continue working until the next elections in May 2019. However, in politics, a lot of things can change in a short amount of time.

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