Michel I Government

The Michel I Government was the Federal Government of Belgium formed following the 2014 Belgian government formation and sworn in on 11 October 2014. The administration is a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V), the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Reformist Movement (MR). The prime minister is Charles Michel. The government had an agenda of socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures, with its priorities being improving Belgium's economic competitiveness and reducing unemployment. It fell in December 2018 over the Global Compact for Migration.

Michel Government
Flag of Belgium.svg
94th Cabinet of Belgium (since 1830)
Charles Michel (2018-01-31) (cropped).jpg
Date formed11 October 2014
Date dissolved9 December 2018 (de facto)
21 December 2018 (de jure)
People and organisations
Head of statePhilippe of Belgium
Head of governmentCharles Michel
Member partyN-VA (Flemish)
MR (Walloon)
CD&V (Flemish)
Open Vld (Flemish)
Status in legislatureCoalition
83 / 150
History
Election(s)2014
Incoming formation2014 Belgian government formation
PredecessorDi Rupo
SuccessorMichel II
Inaugural coalition majority
The government's nickname, the "Swedish coalition", refers to the flag of Sweden (pictured)

Investiture and status in parliamentEdit

The government was sworn in on 11 October 2014, taking the oath of office before King Filip of Belgium. The four parties had a majority in the Chamber of Representatives with 85 members out of 150. On 16 October 2014, the motion of confidence from the Chamber of Representatives was approved by a vote of 84 in favour, 58 against and one abstention (by Aldo Carcaci, the People's Party MP).[1]

The government's number of seats was reduced to 83 when two N-VA members, Hendrik Vuye and Veerle Wouters, left the party in September 2016.

CoalitionEdit

The government consists of a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V), the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Reformist Movement (MR). It is nicknamed "Swedish coalition" inasmuch as the party colours yellow (N-VA) and blue (liberal, i.e. MR and Open Vld) and the cross (Christianity, i.e. CD&V) are combined on the Swedish flag. Initially (given doubts about its durability) the government was also called a "kamikaze coalition", inasmuch as the MR is the only French-speaking party in the coalition.

For the first time in 25 years, the French-speaking Socialist Party did not become a part of the federal government, whereas the Flemish nationalist N-VA helped form a government for the first time. Initially no French-speaking party wanted to partner with the N-VA, but in negotiations MR agreed to do so on the condition that the government's focus would be on socio-economic issues and that no "community-related" issues (as arise in the complex Belgian federal system) or constitutional reform plans would be part of the cabinet programme.

Policies and eventsEdit

Despite three parties (all but N-VA) having been part of the preceding Di Rupo Government as well, the programme of this coalition differs substantially from the previous one. The emphasis is on socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures. Important goals for the parties include helping businesses become more competitive, and increasing job growth.

The announced measures were met by protests primarily from the labour unions, which argued that the measures favour employers and disproportionately burden employees and families. The unions, ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB, which play an important and institutionalised role in Belgium's political process, did not accept the government's offer for dialogue, maintaining that the government was not seriously inclined to reconsider any of the measures. Instead, the unions organised several regional and national strikes in November and December 2014, culminating in a one-day general strike on 15 December.[2]

One of the federal executive's flagship measures is the tax reform, or tax shift , aimed, among other things, at reducing the cost of labour . It takes effect on January 1, 2016.[3][4][5]

Following the March 22, 2016 attacks in Brussels, Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Justice Minister Koen Geens submitted their resignations. They were refused by the Prime Minister.[6]

Another reform of the executive consists of increasing the age of retirement. It will thus increase from 65 to 66 in 2025 and from 66 to 67 in 2030 in order to finance the future cost of pensions. This measure, strongly criticized by the unions, provoked numerous strikes and demonstrations.[7]

An often recurring subject was whether or not a capital gains tax should be introduced, together with a general tax reform. In the summer of 2017, the corporate gains tax was announced to be reduced from 33.99% to 29% starting 2018 and further down to 25% from 2020 whereas a capital gains tax of 0.15% on gains on financial securities was introduced for wealthier citizens holding accounts of at least 0.5 million Eur in value. Meanwhile the first 627 Eur of income through dividends became tax exempt.

Other measures taken by the government include the purchase of F-35s to replace the Belgian army's F-16s, the abandonment of nuclear power by 2025, the removal of abortion from the penal code and the launch of a public investment pact in cooperation with the private sector.[8][9]

The government presided over the arrest of suspects who were accused of playing a role in the Paris attacks of November 2015, as well as a terrorist attack in Brussels in March 2016.

In December 2018, a political crisis emerged over whether to sign the Global Compact for Migration; N-VA was against whereas the other three parties supported it. On December 4, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, announced that the issue would be taken to parliament for a vote.[10] On 5 December, parliament voted 106 to 36 in favor of backing the agreement.[11] Michel stated that he would endorse the pact on behalf of the parliament, not on behalf of the divided government.[12] Consequently, N-VA quit the government; the other three parties continue as a minority government (Michel II).

On 18 December 2018, Michel submitted the cabinet's resignation to the King, who accepted it on 21 December.[13]

CompositionEdit

The Constitution requires an equal number of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers (regardless of the Prime Minister). Since MR is the only French-speaking party, it has more ministers than it would otherwise get with its electoral weight; this is compensated by having only Dutch-speaking Secretaries of State.

Minister Name Party
Prime Minister Charles Michel MR
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of the Interior, Safety and Director of buildings Jan Jambon N-VA
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders MR
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Employment, Economy, Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters CD&V
Deputy Prime Minister – Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services Alexander De Croo Open Vld
Minister of the Middle Class, SMEs, Self-employed and Agriculture Denis Ducarme MR
Minister of Budget Sophie Wilmès MR
Minister of Energy Marie-Christine Marghem MR
Minister of Mobility François Bellot MR
Minister of Pensions Daniel Bacquelaine MR
Minister of Defence Sander Loones N-VA
Minister of Finance and fighting Fiscal Fraud Johan Van Overtveldt N-VA
Minister of Justice Koen Geens CD&V
Minister of Social Affairs and Health Maggie De Block Open Vld
Secretary of State Name Party
Secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification Theo Francken N-VA
Secretary of State for Equal Rights, Disabled Persons, Scientific Policy, Urban Policy and fighting Poverty Zuhal Demir N-VA
Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem CD&V
Secretary of State for Social fraud, Privacy and the North Sea Philippe De Backer Open Vld

Changes in compositionEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "De federale regering krijgt het vertrouwen van de Kamer". deredactie.be. 16 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Belgium grinds to a halt for one-day general strike". The Guardian. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
  3. ^ "Tax shift: voici ce qui va changer pour votre portefeuille". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  4. ^ "Le Tax shift pour les nuls". Communes, régions, Belgique, monde, sports – Toute l'actu 24h/24 sur Lavenir.net (in French). Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  5. ^ Newmedia, R. T. L. "Le tax shift prend effet dans quelques jours: voici quel sera l'impact sur votre salaire". RTL Info (in French). Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  6. ^ "Jan Jambon et Koen Geens ont présenté leur démission, Charles Michel les refuse". Le Soir Plus (in French). 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  7. ^ "Manifestation contre la réforme des pensions: le point sur la situation". Communes, régions, Belgique, monde, sports – Toute l'actu 24h/24 sur Lavenir.net (in French). Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  8. ^ "La Chambre approuve la loi qui sort l'IVG du Code pénal mais ne la dépénalise pas". RTBF Info (in French). 2018-10-04. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  9. ^ "Bilan du gouvernement Michel: d'abord et surtout du socio-économique". RTBF Info (in French). 2018-12-08. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  10. ^ Casert, Raf (4 December 2018). "Dispute over UN migration pact fractures Belgian government". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 4 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Belgian PM wins backing for UN migration pact". France 24. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Belgian PM Charles Michel wins backing for UN migration pact". www.timesnownews.com. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Michel dient ontslag van de regering in: 'Ik ga naar de koning'". 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  14. ^ Redactie. "Sleurs (N-VA): "Dit is geen degradatie"". De Morgen.
  15. ^ Jamar wordt gouverneur van Luik
  16. ^ Mortimer, Caroline (24 March 2016). "Brussels attacks: Belgian interior and justice ministers offer their resignation in wake of assault on city". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  17. ^ “Unacceptable that Parliament was not informed”
  18. ^ Belgium minister quits in Brussels airport security row
  19. ^ “Unacceptable that Parliament was not informed”
  20. ^ François Bellot wordt nieuwe minister van Mobiliteit
  21. ^ “Bart Tommelein succeeds Annemie Turtelboom”
  22. ^ “Bracke zet stap opzij als lijsttrekker in Gent, Sleurs neemt over en vertrekt als staatssecretaris”
  23. ^ Zuhal Demir: "Ik ben een madame van de aanpak"
  24. ^ Willy Borsus wordt Waals minister-president
  25. ^ Sander Loones (N-VA) wordt minister van Defensie: “Wil het werk van Steven Vandeput verderzetten”
  26. ^ "Audiëntie 9 december 2018". De Belgische Monarchie (in Dutch). 9 December 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Overzicht: dit is de nieuwe Belgische regering" (in Dutch). De Morgen. 9 December 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.