Negotiators for a new Belgian government have finally achieved a definite agreement for a new government. It took 535 days to get that far, a world- and probably intergalactic-record. The new cabinet could take up its task next Monday, the 5th of December, day 540 after the elections of the 13th of June 2010.
The message was sent out shortly after 9 pm on Wednesday evening: the six negotiating parties (liberals, socialists and christian democrats of both communities of Belgium) around 'formateur' Elio di Rupo had agreed on a text of 185 pages (another record), the agreement that will command the actions of the next federal government.
Reactions on the final agreement were mitigated. There was much relief that finally there will be again a government in full. But there was much confusion and already some angry reactions about the budget cuts.
The negotiators met today again to do the second lecture. They were expected to finish this evening. At that time a day of union protests will start against the measures the negotiators adopted last weekend about cuts for an amount of 11,3 bn € in the budget of 2012 and about reforms of the pension and unemployment system.
In the weekend party congresses will vote on the agreement, so that from sunday evening onwards di Rupo can start with the composition of his first government. Somewhere Monday the new ministers will go to the Royal Palace in Laken to swear their oath in front of King Albert.
The absolute world record of 540 days to form a government (the previous one was in the hands of Iraq with some 280 days) is prove that Belgium has become so divided that it is extremely difficult to govern it, especially in difficult times all over Europe. But it is also true that at the end a majority of politicians was found to go at extreme length (540 days) to keep that country, if not alive, at least afloat.