Belgian PM to reshuffle government

13th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 July 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is expected to reshuffle his government at the weekend, it was reported on Tuesday.

13 July 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is expected to reshuffle his government at the weekend, it was reported on Tuesday.

The premier needs to make the shake-up to fill gaps left in the cabinet as ministers move to posts in the country's regional governments, the make up of which is being finalised after last month's regional elections.

He will also have to replace whoever is chosen as Belgium's next European Commissioner.

Big hitters like French-speaking Liberal Vice-Prime Minister (MR) and Foreign Minister Louis Michel, Employment Minister Frank Vandenbroucke and Mobility Minister Bert Anciaux look set to depart.

Michel is the current favourite for the Commission job, for example.

Economy Minister Fientje Moerman was also expected to go and the chances of Health Minister Rudy Demotte leaving to head up the government in French speaking Wallonia were described as “fifty-fifty” in La Dernière Heure newspaper.

In return for backing the likely reshuffle, the French-speaking Socialists (PS) are predicted to demand one of their party becomes president of the senate.

Experts predict that some of the most serious inter-party wrangling will take place over the question of who takes over from Michel, if he does indeed take up the Commission job.

One compromise solution might see a member of Verhofstadt's own Flemish Liberal (VLD) party get the post with a francophone Liberal (MR) as defence minister and a French speaking socialist (PS) as development minister.

 [Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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