After yesterday’s elections, King Philippe of Belgium is currently holding consultations with the various political party leaders and the Presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Representatives to form a new federal government. The King, who will later appoint an “informateur” and/or “raporteur”, plays a crucial role in the new government formation.
Yesterday, the Belgian people went to the poll stations to cast their votes. For the next few weeks, King Philippe has cleared his agenda to play his part in the government formation. Today, King Philippe invited the key political figures of the country as part of his round of consultations. During this round of discussions, the King will listen to the views of every politician on the past elections and on forming a new government.
It was a hectic day for the King as he received no more than five politicians at the Royal Palace of Brussels. First up was the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel (MR). His Majesty charged the government with the task of continuing to handle the essential cases as long as there is no new government.
In the afternoon, His Majesty consulted:
- Siegfried Bracke (N-VA), President of the Chamber of Representatives
- Jacques Brotchi (MR), President of the Senate
- Bart De Wever (N-VA), party leader of the largest party in Flanders, NV-A
- Elio Di Rupo (PS), party leader of the largest party in Wallonia, PS
After his round of consultations and having considered everyone’s views for the future, the King will appoint a “formateur” or an “informateur”. 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 or she will then report back to the King and advise him for the appointment of the “formateur”. The King will decide who he thinks is capable of forming the new government and then appoint him or her as the “formateur”. Often the “formateur” becomes the new Prime Minister.
This is only the second government formation in which King Philippe has been involved, and it promises not to be an easy one. In the northern part of Belgium (Flanders), the extreme right party has won the elections while in the southern part (Wallonia), the Greens (Ecolo) were the convincing winners. The King will have a difficult time bringing these views together.
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.
According to Belgian law, the King is allowed to have this role as he is neutral. The King and Queen do not vote while other members of the Belgian Royal Family do.