Belgian king Filip receives party leaders Vlaams Belang and PVDA
The Belgian king Filip has spoken in his palace in Brussels with the leaders of the right-wing populist Vlaams Belang and the far left PVDA. The head of state receives the political protagonists this week to discuss how the country should be governed.
Belgium has become even more divided after the last Sunday elections. The left parties became the largest in Wallonia and Brussels. In Flanders, the right became even stronger. Vlaams Belang won a lot, the party received 18 percent of the votes. The Flemish nationalist party N-VA remained the largest.
The PVDA achieved a good result in both Flanders and Wallonia on Sunday. The Social Democrats of the Parti Socialiste (PS) remained the largest party in Wallonia, but they had to give up a lot.
Invitation from the king
The question was whether Vlaams Belang would accept the invitation of the king. The party is critical of the royal family and has once rejected the invitation in the past.
Party leader Tom van Grieken from Vlaams Belang said to the press in front of the palace: "If the king shows respect for our program and our voters, I show respect by coming here to listen to him."
It is only the second time that Vlaams Belang is invited by the king to talk about possible government participation. When leaving the palace, Van Grieken said it was a pleasant and peaceful conversation.
The established parties have not wanted to cooperate with Vlaams Belang since the 1980s. Because of this cordon sanitaire, the chance that the party will get government responsibility is still very small.
Peter Mertens of the PVDA was the last party leader to receive King Filip in his first formation round. He told the Belgian press that "the PVDA will not allow a number of separatist parties to misuse the results of the elections to split the country".
The first formation round is now over and it is awaiting the next steps of the king. Due to the complicated political landscape, it is likely that it will take a long time before a new government is formed.