Neha Patil

Michel Government

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Date formed  11 October 2014
Head of state  Philippe of Belgium
Election(s)  2014
Head of government  Charles Michel
Status in legislature  Coalition 83 / 150
Michel Government
Member party  N-VA (Flemish) MR (Walloon) CD&V (Flemish) Open Vld (Flemish)

The Michel Government is the incumbent Federal Government of Belgium formed following the 2014 Belgian government formation and sworn in on 11 October 2014. The administration is a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance, the Christian Democratic and Flemish, the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats and the Reformist Movement. The prime minister is Charles Michel. The government has an agenda of socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures, with its priorities being improving Belgium's economic competitiveness and reducing unemployment.

Contents

Investiture and status in parliament

The government was sworn in on 11 October 2014, taking the oath of office before King Filip of Belgium. The four parties had a majority in the Chamber of Representatives with 85 members out of 150. On 16 October 2014, the motion of confidence from the Chamber of Representatives was approved by a vote of 84 in favour, 58 against and one abstention (by Aldo Carcaci, the People's Party MP).

The government's majority was reduced to 83 when two N-VA members left the party in September 2016.

Coalition

The government consists of a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V), the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Reformist Movement (MR). It is nicknamed "Swedish coalition" inasmuch as the party colours yellow (N-VA) and blue (liberal, i.e. MR and Open Vld) and the cross (associated with CD&V) are combined on the Swedish flag. Initially (given doubts about its durability) the government was also called a "kamikaze coalition", inasmuch as the MR is the only French-speaking party in the coalition.

For the first time in 25 years, the French-speaking Socialist Party did not become a part of the federal government, whereas the Flemish nationalist N-VA helped form a government for the first time. Initially no French-speaking party wanted to partner with the N-VA, but in negotiations MR agreed to do so on the condition that the government's focus would be on socio-economic issues and that no "community-related" issues (as arise in the complex Belgian federal system) or constitutional reform plans would be part of the cabinet programme.

Measures and protests

Despite three parties (all but N-VA) having been part of the preceding Di Rupo Government as well, the programme of this coalition differs substantially from the previous one. The emphasis is on socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures. Important goals for the parties include helping businesses become more competitive, and increasing job growth.

The announced measures were met by protests primarily from the labour unions, which argued that the measures favour employers and disproportionately burden employees and families. The unions, ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB, which play an important and institutionalised role in Belgium's political process, did not accept the government's offer for dialogue, maintaining that the government was not seriously inclined to reconsider any of the measures. Instead, the unions organised several regional and national strikes in November and December 2014, culminating in a one-day general strike on 15 December.

The government presided over the arrest of suspects accused of playing a role in the Paris attacks of November 2015, as well as a terrorist attack in Brussels in March 2016.

An often recurring subject is whether or not a capital gains tax should be introduced, and tax reform in general.

Composition

The Constitution requires an equal number of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers (regardless of the Prime Minister). Since MR is the only French-speaking party, it has more ministers than it would otherwise get with its electoral weight; this is compensated by having only Dutch-speaking Secretaries of State.

Changes in composition

  • On May 21, 2015 the portfolios Urban Policy and fighting Fiscal Fraud were re-allocated between three N-VA members. Urban Policy moved from Jan Jambon to Elke Sleurs, while Sleurs handed over Fiscal Fraud to Johan Van Overtveldt.
  • On September 21, 2015 it was announced that minister of Budget Hervé Jamar (MR) would resign to become governor of Liège. He was succeeded by Sophie Wilmès (MR).
  • On March 25, 2016, in the aftermath of the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens both offered their resignation over their failure to detain one of the suspects, Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, despite warnings from Turkey's government in 2015. Michel rejected both resignations and the government's composition remained unchanged.
  • On April 15, 2016, in the aftermath of the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, minister of mobility Jacqueline Galant (MR) resigned, after it became known that prior to the attacks she had received a summary of a damning European Commission report (2015) on security at Belgian airports. Two days later she was replaced by François Bellot.
  • On April 29, 2016, Bart Tommelein (Open Vld) left his position as Secretary of State for Social fraud, Privacy and the North Sea to replace Annemie Turtelboom who had resigned earlier that same day as Flemish Minister for Finance, Budget and Energy in the Flemish Government. While Tommelein was replacing Turtelboom, he was himself replaced by Philippe De Backer who gave up his position as Member of the European Parliament.
  • On February 20, 2017, Elke Sleurs (N-VA) announced she would leave her position as Secretary of State for Equal Rights, Disabled Persons, Scientific Policy, Urban Policy and fighting Poverty to become lijsttrekker in Ghent for the upcoming 2018 municipal elections. Three days later, the N-VA decided to replace Sleurs with Zuhal Demir. Demir was sworn in by the King on 24 February 2017.
  • References

    Michel Government Wikipedia


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