Belgian King Albert II on Thursday asked Elio Di Rupo to explore ways to form a new government in what would be a first for a francophone in more than 30 years, the royal palace said in a statement.
“The king received in audience PS (francophone Socialist Party) president Elio Di Rupo. The king tasked him with taking first steps to form (a government). Mr Di Rupo accepted the mission,” the statement said.
Di Rupo has been considered favourite to replace Prime Minister Yves Leterme, a Christian Democrat, after the snap June 13 election in which his socialists did well in the francophone part of the country.
Belgium’s last, five-party, coalition government fell after a key Flemish party walked out in frustration over a lack of movement on some of the knottiest inter-communal problems, prompting the early elections.
Should Di Rupo succeed in forming a government it would be a first for a francophone since Paul Vanden Boeynants, a Brussels Christian Democrat who was prime minister from October 1978 until April 1979.
Earlier Thursday Flemish separatist Bart de Wever, whose party swept the election in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking part, handed in a report to Albert II giving details on the chances of a viable new government coalition.
“There are convergences between the parties but not enough to form a government,” now, he said.
De Wever has said he is not interested in forming a government himself.
A new coalition government is not expected before October.