The Brief: Fragmented politics - the new norm for Europe?

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By Joao Ferreira, Shona Murray
The Brief: Fragmented politics - the new norm for Europe?

More than five months since the last federal elections Belgium is yet to form a government. To many this may not come as a surprise. After all, Belgium spent 541 days without government after the federal elections in 2010. In practical terms the current situation is not different. The prolonged discussions suggest that there is very little common ground between the main political forces. What can we expect?

"One solution could be to go to new elections but all these parties could lose ground to the extremes on the left and on the right on the french speaking region and on the dutch speaking side or to try and form a government without the main party which is the N/VA, the nationalist right but that's a very politically risky solution so they have to choose at one point but they are still talking," explains Eric Maurice, from the Robert Schuman Foundation.

The situation in Belgium is far from unique. In fact, single party governments are now the exception all over the EU. Is this the new normal?

"Voters are never happy with the situation so the way to express their discontent is always by going to the extremes or weakening one of the partners of the coalition but the political landscape is so fragmented that it's difficult to find one or even two parties that can govern together, that can have a majority together or that can find a common ground," says Maurice.

The politics of fragmentation is spilling from the national level to the european level. While compromise has been the cornerstone of European construction, further weakening could lead to unexpected consequences.

And Formation finally?

The incoming president of the European Commission has insisted that the UK nominate an EU Commissioner.

Ursula Von der Leyen sent British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a letter requesting a name to fill the UK's Commission portfolio; adding that ideally it would be a woman.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Government is set to propose MEPs Adina-Ioana Vălean and Siegfried Mureșan for its candidates for commission.

The group of the socialists in the European Parliament warned von der Lyon to keep the gender balance

"We need this commitment to translate into a gender-balanced college. This a clear condition to guarantee our group's suppport to the next European Commission," said leader of the socialist group, Iratxe García Pérez.