This week Hugh does a solo episode running down the sort of not really government collapse in Belgium.

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Show Notes:

Is Belgium in the mood for an election?

Michel I is dead, long live Michel II

Belgium now has a minority government! Technically since the PM didn’t offer his resignation to the King the government is still the same but has a vastly different cabinet and is missing its largest coalition partner.

Now the government is the Reformist Movement (Wallonia), Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats and Christian Democratic Flemish (guess where they’re from…).

This is after N-VA (New Flemish Alliance - Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie) quit the government over the UN Migration Treaty. They made up 31 of the seats 83 the government had (out of 150), so not a majority but a large chunk.

Wait, they can just keep the government?

So it’s complicated… in a lot of parliaments they’d be out by now. No majority, with hostile opposition calling for a confidence vote? They’d be gone. Probably not in Belgium. Constitutional scholars seem to disagree on whether the 1993 changes to the constitution means they government needs to have a vote of confidence to continue (www.vrt.be. )Any vote of confidence would be voluntary… unless the opposition parties can convince everyone that’s not the case.

Either way there’s an election in May

There’s an election due on the same day as the EU parliament elections (by design from now on) - so late May (23–26). That is unless there’s snap elections. It’s also unclear whether snap elections would trigger a parliamentary term just until that date or for a 5 year term… the constitution says so after the reforms put in place after the 2010/2011 government formation nonsense… en.wikipedia.org

So Hows That Election Looking?

N-VA are on a polling high in the 20-30 range (20% in the last election). The remaining coalition are polling just fine. MR is around 16% (9% last election).. but of course they are in a minority government so this is their opportunity to run the country, they could easily not be in control post election.

For those not familiar with Belgium politics Michel is pretty conservative.. but N-VA is the Flemish nationalist party - they sit with the British Conservatives in the EU parliament. It wants a separate Flemish state… but with free market economics, tax cuts and EU membership… it’s an odd bag. For context there’s a party to the right of them which wants out of the EU and is just generally racist.

So they left the government?

So it passed the parliament with support from opposition members and most of the government (minus N-VA). Michel said this let him sign it… the N-VA said he needed support of the government (which based on how no confidence votes seems to work there makes sense)(www.politico.eu. )

They said they wouldn’t leave over it… and then they did (www.nytimes.comwww.theguardian.com )

So the N-VA don’t like the UN?

They feel very strongly about non-binding international agreements on not being shitty to people (www.dw.com. )Things like “agreeing to gather anonymized data to accurately track migration” in order to engage in an evidenced based dialogue would be political suicide for peddlers or bullshit