After days of speculation King Philippe invited the winners on the extreme sides of the political spectrum to the palace. A first time for Vlaams Belang.
The power of the Belgian king has become very limited over time. He might not have any formal political power yet he still plays an important role in the direct aftermath of federal elections. Appointing a mediator (‘informateur’) in the first stage and a ‘formateur’ in a second stage is the kings prerogative.
Traditionally the King invites most political parties for a consultation round in the days after federal elections. This allows time for the dust to settle and is part of His Majesty’s role to improve dialogue between political actors. Analysts on all sides were wondering whether or not the winners on the extreme sides of the political spectrum would be invited. When asked party leader Tom Van Grieken said “it is the most normal matter in the world that the party that is the biggest winner in the election is invited by the head of state’. And “a matter of respect towards voters and the democracy”.
Although the Royal Palace had invited founder and party leader Karel Dillen (then Vlaams Blok) for an audience in 1978, the virulent republican promptly refused the invitation. Leading to a disgrace the Palace would not lightly forget. All following consultations after, Vlaams Blok, later Vlaams Belang, would never receive another invitation. Until today.
Party leader Tom Van Grieken afterwards kept to the ‘colloque singulier’, the rule that anything discussed with the king has to stay strictly confidential. “It was a calm an congenial conversation” and Van Grieken saw the invitation as a sign of respect for his party’s voters.
The head of state afterwards also met with PVDA leader Peter Mertens.