Europe

Belgium's young PM sworn in to lead centre-right government

The chief of Belgium"s Francophone Liberal Party (MR) Charles Michel (L) is sworn in as Prime Minister in the presence of King Philippe (R) at the Brussels Royal Palace in Brussels October 11, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Belgium's new government is a coalition of four centre-right parties

Belgium's King Philippe has sworn in a new centre-right government, more than four months after the general election.

It is led by French-speaking liberal Charles Michel, 38, who will be Belgium's youngest PM since 1841.

The government is the first to include ministers from the separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party. It has vowed to cut government spending and balance the national budget.

Belgium is notorious for long political deadlocks following elections.

It took 541 days to form the country's previous, Socialist-led government.

The country is also deeply divided linguistically. Dutch-speaking parties performed well in the elections, but they chose to form a four-party coalition and appoint a French-speaking prime minister.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Charles Michel is a French-speaker who heads a coalition of mainly Dutch-speaking parties

The N-VA, which campaigns for more autonomy for northern, Dutch-speaking Belgium, came first in the May elections.

Its leader, Bart De Wever, will remain mayor of Antwerp and did not join the government.

As well as a commitment to lower taxes, the new government plans to raise the pension age from 65 to 66 in 2025 and to 67 in 2030.

Outgoing prime minister, French-speaking socialist Elio di Rupo, has vowed to lead the political opposition to the policies.

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