Di Rupo I government sworn in
Belgium finally has a new government after 451 days. Yesterday the Di Rupo I government was sworn in at the royal palace amid massive interest from both the local and foreign press. Anyone in possession of a press card was welcome to attend the event, as it almost seemed as if King Albert II and the new Prime Minister wanted the whole world to witness the occasion. Both entered the hall in a sea of cameras and flashlights before Di Rupo PS was sworn in and proudly introduced his team while the king took his time to have a quiet word with each of them before taking an oath. Didier Reynders MR, who has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, stood with his back slightly turned to his colleagues to face the cameras. During the ceremony he happily continued chatting to television reporters, ignoring the disapproving glances around him. Except for Sabine Laurelle MR, all the French-speakers took the oath of office in French and Dutch. Among the Dutch-speakers, however, only the CD&V party members Vanackere and Hendrik Bogaert took the oath in both languages. Vanackere seemed troubled by this insensitive attitude, but his fellow party member and Defence Minister Pieter De Crem was not at all perturbed. “I refuse point-blank to speak French,” he said somewhat smugly. The palace reception afterwards was cut short as the nineteen government members were expected for the official group photograph in the Palace of Nations, more widely known as the Parliament and Senate Houses and in the rue de la Loi. This provided a golden opportunity for both the newly appointed politicians and redundant staff of the former ministerial offices to get acquainted, it seems. They then rushed off to rue de la Loi 16, the official residence of the Prime Minister, where Di Rupo gathered his team for their first short cabinet meeting.But not before he he said an official goodbye and received the entry badge from his predecessor, Yves Leterme CD&V. “I was expecting you earlier,” Leterme joked. “You were a very, very good Prime Minister,” Di Rupo replied.