94th cabinet of Belgium (since 1830)
|Date formed||11 October 2014|
|Date dissolved||9 December 2018 (de facto)|
21 December 2018 (de jure)
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Philippe of Belgium|
|Head of government||Charles Michel|
|Member party||N-VA (Flemish)|
Open Vld (Flemish)
|Status in legislature||Coalition|
|Incoming formation||2014 Belgian government formation|
The Michel I Government was the Federal Government of Belgium formed following the 2014 Belgian government formation and sworn in on 11 October 2014. The administration is a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V), the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Reformist Movement (MR). The prime minister is Charles Michel. The government had an agenda of socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures, with its priorities being improving Belgium's economic competitiveness and reducing unemployment. It fell in December 2018 over the Global Compact for Migration.
The government was sworn in on 11 October 2014, taking the oath of office before King Filip of Belgium. The four parties had a majority in the Chamber of Representatives with 85 members out of 150. On 16 October 2014, the motion of confidence from the Chamber of Representatives was approved by a vote of 84 in favour, 58 against and one abstention (by Aldo Carcaci, the People's Party MP).
The government consists of a centre-right coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V), the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Reformist Movement (MR). It is nicknamed "Swedish coalition" inasmuch as the party colours yellow (N-VA) and blue (liberal, i.e. MR and Open Vld) and the cross (Christianity, i.e. CD&V) are combined on the Swedish flag. Initially (given doubts about its durability) the government was also called a "kamikaze coalition", inasmuch as the MR is the only French-speaking party in the coalition.
For the first time in 25 years, the French-speaking Socialist Party did not become a part of the federal government, whereas the Flemish nationalist N-VA helped form a government for the first time. Initially no French-speaking party wanted to partner with the N-VA, but in negotiations MR agreed to do so on the condition that the government's focus would be on socio-economic issues and that no "community-related" issues (as arise in the complex Belgian federal system) or constitutional reform plans would be part of the cabinet programme.
Despite three parties (all but N-VA) having been part of the preceding Di Rupo Government as well, the programme of this coalition differs substantially from the previous one. The emphasis is on socio-economic reforms, especially through austerity measures. Important goals for the parties include helping businesses become more competitive, and increasing job growth.
The announced measures were met by protests primarily from the labour unions, which argued that the measures favour employers and disproportionately burden employees and families. The unions, ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB, which play an important and institutionalised role in Belgium's political process, did not accept the government's offer for dialogue, maintaining that the government was not seriously inclined to reconsider any of the measures. Instead, the unions organised several regional and national strikes in November and December 2014, culminating in a one-day general strike on 15 December.
An often recurring subject was whether or not a capital gains tax should be introduced, together with a general tax reform. In the summer of 2017, the corporate gains tax was announced to be reduced from 33.99% to 29% starting 2018 and further down to 25% from 2020 whereas a capital gains tax of 0.15% on gains on financial securities was introduced for wealthier citizens holding accounts of at least 0.5 million Eur in value. Meanwhile the first 627 Eur of income through dividends became tax exempt.
In December 2018, a political crisis emerged over whether to sign the Global Compact for Migration; N-VA was against whereas the other three parties supported it. On December 4, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, announced that the issue would be taken to parliament for a vote. On 5 December, parliament voted 106 to 36 in favor of backing the agreement. Michel stated that he would endorse the pact on behalf of the parliament, not on behalf of the divided government. Consequently, N-VA quit the government; the other three parties continue as a minority government (Michel II).
The Constitution requires an equal number of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers (regardless of the Prime Minister). Since MR is the only French-speaking party, it has more ministers than it would otherwise get with its electoral weight; this is compensated by having only Dutch-speaking Secretaries of State.