BELGIUM’s caretaker Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has been handed special powers to lead the country through the coronavirus outbreak, 10 months after inconclusive elections delivered poor prospects for a coalition.
King Philippe mandated Wilmes to form a government on Monday in Brussels, the Belga news agency reported, after seven opposition parties agreed to back her minority administration, itself composed of three parties.
Wilmes’ administration is limited to a maximum of six months and will be focused on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tripartite minority government commands just 38 seats in Belgium’s 150-member federal parliament.
Belgium has so far detected 1,058 cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, with five fatalities.
Wilmes already introduced a partial lockdown on Friday, closing cafes and restaurants, and as of Monday stopping all teaching in schools.
The Belgian political landscape is highly fractured, with French-speaking south marked by post-industrial decline and a more prosperous Dutch-speaking north, where many demand greater autonomy or even independence.
This makes building a viable federal government ruling the two regions difficult.
The two biggest centrist parties, the French-speaking Socialists and the Dutch-speaking centre-right N-VA refuse to work together.
Wilmes is from the French-speaking Liberals. Belgian government formation tends to be a lengthy, complex process. In 2010, it took a record 541 days. (dpa/NAN)
– Mar. 17, 2020 @ 10:55 GMT |