Coronavirus: Wilmès given special powers to govern for six months

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Acting PM Wilmès gets six months to navigate the crisis without hinder. © Belga

The two Royal envoys exploring the road to a new government will report to the King at 10.00 this morning to inform him an agreement is on the table.

However the word from Patrick Dewael (Open VLD) and Sabine Laruelle (MR) will not be of a new government, but rather more of the same government, but with special powers.

An agreement has been reached by ten political parties to invest the government currently led by Sophie Wilmès (MR) with special powers not usually enjoyed by a caretaker regime, in order to allow her to guide the country through the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wilmès currently governs with a minority coalition composed of her own MR, as well as CD&V and Open VLD. Seven other parties have pledge their support – PS, sp.a, N-VA, Ecolo, Groen, cdH and Défi.

The government still cannot introduce new legislation, except if it relates to the coronavirus situation. In that way, the tortuous road to a new government can be set aside for a period of three to six months, while the government is given all the powers it might need to deal with the pandemic.

“The urgent thing is to take charge of the coronavirus in all of its aspects,” said Laruelle.

Those include the approval given a priori by the parliament for actions taken to deal with the coronavirus – such as last week’s decision to close down bars and restaurants entirely, and most shops at the weekend. For disease-related measures, the government need not go through the procedure of readings before parliament. That support is now assured.

“The people would not have understood had negotiations gone on for weeks more,” said Dewael.

Wilmès herself tweeted: “The government team in place appreciates the great responsibility given to it by this evening’s agreement. The sense of duty drives us. The will to work in the interest of all Belgians also. This great union is up to the challenges of the moment. #Coronavirus #Begov.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times, pub-6336011652228911, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0