December 19, Belgium: Belgium’s government of four years has fallen on the issue of migration after the country’s parliament rejected an appeal from prime minister, Charles Michel, for its support for a minority administration. Prime Minister offered his resignation to the king Tuesday evening due to the crisis.
Michel's offer to resign follows a dispute with his former Flemish nationalist coalition partners, the N-VA, over U.N. migration pact, which forced Michel to set up a minority government. Rightwing critics in Belgium have said the agreement could increase immigration and last week protests in Brussels turned violent as thousands of demonstrators marched over the signing of the pact in Marrakech. The socialists and greens had put forward the motion of no confidence. Counter protesters in Brussels who supported the migration pact described those marching as fascist groups.
The U.N. migration pact caused trouble in a number of other European countries, some of which pulled out of the deal, while others crafted additional "explanations" of the vote to convince political partners to support it. But Belgium is the only country where the discussion led to a government collapse.
Mr Michel re-established his government a week ago as a minority administration after the biggest party in his coalition, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) quit in a dispute over signing the UN migration pact. The Belgian parliament voted in favor of the government signing up to the U.N. migration agreement even after the coalition, with Michel's liberal Reformist Movement and two smaller government forces getting support from opposition parties including the Greens and Socialists. But it left the government weakened.
Michel had tried to gather support from opposition parties in order to continue his work until the May election. He had tried to assuage some of the concerns of left-leaning parties earlier on Tuesday, but when Socialist and Green opposition parties said they would trigger a vote of no confidence in his government, he decided to offer his resignation.
Belgium’s King Philippe has not yet taken a decision and has put Michel’s resignation on hold until he consults with political leaders and advisers on how to proceed. It leaves Michel's government powerless, but still in place. Mr Michel also refused to call an early election despite calls from some in the assembly; he said such a move would only lead to “stagnation for the whole of 2019”. Hence the government is widely expected to remain in caretaker mode until May 26 elections and the parliament could vote on the first of a series of monthly budgets needed to keep the government running as early as Thursday.