Jim Brunsden, Financial Times, December 18, 2018
Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, has resigned following a failed attempt to win parliamentary backing for his minority administration, deepening the country’s political crisis.
Mr Michel announced his resignation following a decision by opposition parties to table a no-confidence motion in his government. Rather than wait for the vote later this week, Mr Michel announced that he would “immediately” tender his resignation to the king.
The move confirmed the failure of Mr Michel’s attempts to soldier on as prime minister after the Flemish nationalist N-VA party quit his government earlier this month over its opposition to a UN migration pact.
Mr Michel had hoped to carry on as leader of a minority administration of liberals and conservatives but stoked the ire of opposition parties by ruling out the idea of seeking a confidence vote for his rejigged administration.
His resignation increases the likelihood of early elections, with the country already set to go to the polls in May.
Mr Michel had appealed for a “coalition of good will” in parliament to see his government through to the May vote, but a day of parliamentary debate in Brussels led him to conclude this was impossible.
But the deal went sour after the N-VA stiffened its opposition to a UN compact on migration that Mr Michel was determined to sign, echoing antipathy to the international accord in right-wing parties elsewhere in the EU.
While the pact is not legally binding, opponents see its provisions in making legal migration easier, providing services to migrants and toughening laws against anti-migrant hate crimes as a potential catalyst for changes to national laws. The European Commission and others insist this is not the case.