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Belgium vote likely to make forming next government tough

May 23, 2019 / Philip Blenkinsop

Linguistically-split Belgium holds a national election on Sunday that polls show is unlikely to allow Prime Minister Charles Michel to renew his centre-right government. Michel, 43, has been running the country of 11 million people in a caretaker capacity since December and could face many more months in that role if party leaders struggle to form a new coalition after the vote. In 2010, that task took a world record 541 days until Elio Di Rupo, who still leads the francophone Socialists, finally took office. “The lesson from 2010 is we can cope for some time with a caretaker government. There will be a government, but it could be in 2020,” said Carl Devos, political analyst at Ghent University. Belgium effectively runs two separate elections in the Dutch and French-speaking regions, with no national parties, after which it will somehow have to weld together a federal government from a more left-leaning south and right-leaning north.