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Belgium - Elections 2010

The Francophone Socialist (PS) and Flemish Nationalist (N-VA) parties won the largest proportion of seats during parliamentary elections in June 2010. The NV-A became the countrys largest party, winning 27 seats compared to 4 in 2007, indicating growing support for regional autonomy in Flanders. Analysts and politicians said it was critical for Belgium to form a new government swiftly so it can address pressing issues like the economy. There was also pressure to form a new government before Belgium takes over the rotating European Union presidency on 01 July 2010. But many observers believed it would take weeks, if not months, to form a new government.

The election to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives was held on 13 June 2010. The snap elections were called when the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, under Alexander DE CROO, withdrew itself from the government coalition on 22 April 2010, only five months into the parliaments term, in protest of its failure to resolve the issue of Brusselss electoral representation.

The program of the N-VA, led by Bart De Wever, proposed to invest the regions and communities with considerable autonomy and limit the power of the federal government to essential areas such as defence and foreign relations. The judiciary and social security would be devolved to the regional and community governments. The party proposed to gradually reduce the powers of the federal government and in parallel, enhance its integration into Europe. It aimed to maintain the competitiveness of companies and supported certain proposals made by employers' organizations.

The CD&V, led since 2008 by Marianne Thyseen, also advocated reform via a redistribution of power among the federal government, the communities and the regions while maintaining adequate funding to ensure the proper running of the federal government. Its programme sought to foster an economic upturn through concerted social policy and focusing on the family.

The PS pledged to be part of a federal government that was capable of tackling economic problems and the serious social crisis without being bogged down by institutional handicaps. PS leader Di Rupo promised to initiate a constructive dialogue with the parties in the north in order to find a negotiated solution to the country's institutional problems, thereby improving the lives of citizens and creating a stable federal State. In addition to promoting job creation and making health care accessible to all, the party aimed to implement fairer taxation with a view to achieving a lasting social pact.

The MR called for reform in order to guarantee security, modernize the judicial system and make public administration more efficient and able to better serve citizens and companies. This party considered that institutional reform should not be an end in itself. It could be justified if it added value in terms of good governance and improved the daily life of citizens. The MR's programme aimed to guarantee a job for each citizen, support entrepreneurs and put in place a genuinely European and economically sound government.

The sp.a pledged to combat tax fraud and boost employment, in particular for youth and unskilled persons. It provided for measures to guarantee that the pension system remained in place and to raise the lowest incomes.

The Open Vld called for reforms to the political system that would make it less costly and more democratic. It aimed to improve the State budget and foster a more competitive economy without raising taxes. Moreover, it called for the regions to gradually take on further financial responsibilities and greater fiscal autonomy.

The programs of the Ecolo and Groen! parties, which are part of the same parliamentary group in the House, focused on promoting sustainable development and environmental protection and combating climate change. They were in favour of greater solidarity at the global level, migrant mobility and better procedures for facilitating migrants' stay in the country. They were willing to help find a new institutional balance with a view to emerging in a lasting manner from the community conflicts and giving priority to urgent economic, social and environmental matters.

The cdH called for a new pact among Belgians to emerge from their institutional crisis. They also called for an ambitious jobs pact and sustainable economic and human growth to recover from the economic crisis. They appealed for unity to achieve this goal.

The far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party, led by Bruno Valkeniers, confirmed its ultimate objective of an independent Flanders, and was opposed to the immigration of persons who refused to integrate and did not respect the fundamental values of Belgian society. It pledged to actively combat the problem of illegal immigrants.

Belgium had been without a government since June 10, 2010, as leaders of the country's deeply divided French- and Dutch-speaking communities have been unable to form a coalition government. The subsequent government formation took a record 541 days and resulted in the sixth Belgian State Reform. By December 2011, no governing coalition had yet been formed due to continued inability of the Francophone and Flemish parties to reach a compromise over state reforms, including a new public financing law and the proposed split of an electoral district comprising both Brussels and parts of the surrounding Flemish region. Finally, on 6 December 2011, a new government coalition was formed between the Socialist Party, Christian Democratic and Flemish party, Reformist Movement, Socialist Party Different, Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, and the Humanist Democratic Centre. Elio DI RUPO became the first Prime Minister from the French Community since 1974. Prime Minister Leterme and his cabinet remained in office in a caretaker capacity as of January 2011.

Elections were held on 13 June 2010. The parties in the House were the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) 27 seats; Francophone Socialists (PS) 26 seats; Francophone Liberals (MR) 18 seats; Christian Democrats (CD&V) 17 seats; Flemish Liberals (Open VLD) 13 seats; Flemish Socialists (SP.A) 13 seats; Flemish Far Right (VB) 12 seats; Francophone Democratic and Humanist Center (CDH) 9 seats; Francophone Greens (Ecolo) 8 seats; Flemish Greens (Groen!) 5 seats; List Dedecker 1 seat; Francophone Peoples Party (PP) 1 seat.

By September 15th, 2011 Belgium's Dutch- and French-speaking parties said they had reached an agreement on a key issue toward forming a new government 15 months after the election. The eight parties said they had a deal on splitting up an electoral district in the bilingual Brussels area. The leader of the caretaker government, Yves Leterme, said he planned to step down at the end of the year for a job at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

On 30 November 2011 six parties with enough Parliament seats to govern reached a coalition agreement and presented it to King Albert II the next day. The country's six political parties reached agreement on a 2012 budget, which had been a major obstacle towards putting together a coalition government. The European Union had threatened to penalize Belgium unless it came up with a spending plan for next year, and the Standard & Poor's agency downgraded Belgium's credit rating, in part because the country still did not have a government.

A leader of the countrys Socialists, Elio di Rupo, 60, became the countrys first head of government since the 1970s whose first language is French. Belgium had set a modern world record for the longest time without a permanent government one and a half years.




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