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Belgian PM De Croo announces resignation after heavy election loss

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, pauses during a press conference in Brussels, 17 October 2023
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, pauses during a press conference in Brussels, 17 October 2023 Copyright AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Copyright AP Photo/Martin Meissner
By Euronews with AP
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De Croo will now tend his resignation to King Philippe, who has the power to reject it at his discretion.

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Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced his resignation after his Flemish Liberals and Democrats party (Open VLD) was defeated in the European elections.

"For us, it's a particularly difficult evening. We lost. As of tomorrow, I will resign as prime minister," a visibly emotional De Croo announced in a speech to his supporters on Sunday.

De Croo will now tend his resignation to King Philippe, who has the power to reject it at his discretion.

Although it was expected to trail behind nationalist and far-right parties in Flanders, Open VLD has suffered its biggest decline in De Croo's own constituency of East Flanders, where his list went from 17.85% in 2019 to 10% this time — and less than 7% overall.

Despite polls predicting that the far-right, anti-immigration Vlaams Belang party would become the main political force in the country with 11.5 million inhabitants, the right-wing nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) retained its first spot, with an expected 22% of the votes, according to provisional results provided by the Interior ministry.

Sunday’s results will result in complex negotiations in a country divided by language and deep regional identities. Belgium is split along linguistic lines, with francophone Wallonia in the south and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, and governments are invariably formed by coalitions made of parties from both regions.

Belgium holds the world record for the longest time needed to form a government, after a ruling coalition was named in December 2021 following a total of 541 days of negotiations.

More than 8 million Belgians voted in what was dubbed 'Super Sunday' elections to choose their regional and national representatives and the new European Parliament MEPs.

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