The Royal Court has just announced that King Philippe of the Belgians has made his first important decision in the government formation process. His Majesty has appointed Johan Vandelanotte (SP.A) and Didier Reynders (MR) as informateurs.
After the Belgian elections on the 26th of May, the King has now concluded his round of consultations. During the discussions, King Philippe spoke to the party leaders of every political party to hear their views on the formation of a new government. His Majesty is the first Belgian monarch to have received the leader of the extremist right party, Vlaams Belang. The party won an enormous amount of votes in the recent elections.
Even though today is Ascension Day, a public holiday in Belgium, King Philippe worked further to form a new federal government as fast as possible. His Majesty has appointed Mr Johan Vandelanotte (socialists) and Didier Reynders (liberals) as informateurs. The informateurs are given the task to “identify the challenges facing our country and to explore the possibilities and necessary conditions for the formation of a federal government.”
In essence, the informateur is a politician with a lot of experience who will gather more information and points of view from the various political parties. He will then report back to the King and advise him for the appointment of the “formateur”. In an official statement, the Royal Court announced that both men had accepted their task.
His Majesty will receive both informateurs in precisely one week, on the 6th of June, to listen to the information they have gathered. The King will then decide if it is necessary to prolong their task. After both gentlemen have spoken to the King, they will hold a press conference.
Political scientist and expert in Belgian politics, Professor Carl Devos, has praised the King for the appointment of the two gentlemen. He called the King’s first important decision “a smart move”.
The next big decision that King Philippe will have to make is the appointment of the formateur. The King will choose someone who he thinks is capable of forming the new government. Often the “formateur” becomes the new Prime Minister.
In Belgium, the King plays a vital role in the formation of the government. Officially, it is the King who takes the first initiative to form a government after the general elections. Besides the round of consultations and the appointments of “formateurs” and “informateurs”, His Majesty is also regularly updated on the progress of the government formation.
After the government formation, the Prime Minister and the other Ministers and Secretaries of State will be sworn in before His Majesty the King. Whenever the government or members of the government want to give up their position, they are obligated to hand in their resignation to the King who will then decide to accept, refuse or to keep in consideration.