Home > Home, Politics > Belgium gets new government after 541 days; Elio Di Rupo as prime minister

Belgium gets new government after 541 days; Elio Di Rupo as prime minister

December 5, 2011

By Eline Hædersdal

AMSTERDAM – Belgium has elected a new French-speaking, homosexual Prime minister, Elio Di Rupo. They put together a new government after a record of 541 days without, on Dec. 5. There are both good hopes and critique to Di Rupo, also known as the man with the red bow tie.

“It’s one of the smallest Belgian Governments ever!” said Social Affairs Minister, Laurette Onkelinx, after a 20-hour meeting on Monday.

Belgian politician Yves Leterme told Dutch television that he is not satisfied with the new prime minister’s poor Dutch language skills.

“If you’re looking for public support for a government, it may be a problem when the leader of that government has difficulty speaking the language of the majority”, said Leterme.

Socialist and Italian immigrant son, Di Rupo, 60, is the first prime minister of Belgium to have French as a first spoken language since 1974.

The country is divided between the 4.5 million French speakers, living mostly in the southern part, and the majority of 6.5 million Dutch speakers, who live mostly in the wealthier northern part of Belgium.

Not only is Di Rupo the first French speaking prime minister in 37 years, he is also the first homosexual EU-prime minister ever.

Di Rupo was the leader of the Socialist Party in the country, and regional prime minister of the Wallonia region.

Belgian journalist Francis Van de Woestyne, who previously interviewed Di Rupo, shared his views about the prime minister’s political qualities: “Patience, charisma and good leadership qualities”.

Professor of politics, Lieven De Winter, from Université Catholique de Louvain explained that the odds are not good for the new government.

“This government cannot be popular, due to the fact that it will have to implement cuts and the fact that the opposition in Flanders will say that everything they do is at the Flemish expense” according to De Winter.

He acknowledged that the new government will most likely not survive next elections.

“Not because of his popularity, but through the lack of an alternative,” said De Winter.

The next Belgian elections will take place in 2014.

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