At 9:30 pm on Saturday King Albert II appointed André Flahaut (see the belga-picture), the president of the Lower House, and Danny Pieters, his collegue at the Senate, as mediators in the search for a new Belgian government. The move signals that time is needed to heal the wounds of the previous round of negotiations.
In the 24 hours between the resignation of Elio di Rupo and the new appointments, the King consulted the presidents of the seven parties who had participated in the failed search for a new institutional reform the last two months. The appointment of the presidents of both chambers of parliament is normally a classic move to take some time. By appointing them Albert also accepted definitely the resignation of di Rupo.
Flahaut, 55, is a former minister of Defence and a socialist from the province of Brabant wallon. For a long time he also led the study center of the PS, which made him the chief of the cabinet of the two predecessors of di Rupo at the head of the PS. Danny Pieters, 53, is a professor in Law from the Catholic University of Leuven, specialised in social security (and the ways to regionalise it). He was elected on June the 10th for the NVA of Bart De Wever.
Both men have the capacities to do much more about institutional reform than just keeping the shop open. But it is as yet not clear if their party presidents will allow them to do more than that. Meanwhile it becomes less and less certain that Belgium will have a new government before Parliament reconvenes in five weeks time.