June 17, 2010 / 3:20 PM / 10 years ago

Belgian king names separatist as coalition adviser

Bart De Wever, president of the Flemish right-wing party New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), answers reporters' questions after a meeting with Belgian King Albert II at the Belgian Parliament in Brussels June 17, 2010. REUTERS/Jan Van de Vel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium’s King Albert has appointed Flemish separatist leader Bart De Wever to explore coalition options after Sunday’s parliamentary elections in which De Wever’s party won the largest proportion of seats.

The role of the adviser or “informateur” is to gather a wide range of views from political parties and unions and help the monarch choose someone to form a government.

De Wever has accepted the short-term position, the palace added in a statement on Thursday.

Belgian voters gave De Wever’s New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) the most parliamentary seats in the election, while the French-speaking socialists (PS) emerged as the strongest party in the southern region of Wallonia.

De Wever and PS chairman Elio Di Rupo are widely expected to conduct talks to form a coalition government.

Together with the Flemish socialists, the PS could form the largest group in parliament, meaning Di Rupo could become the next prime minister.

De Wever is reluctant to lead a united Belgium, and has said he is open to the idea of a first Francophone premier since 1974 if that would help to bring more powers to the Dutch-speaking, northern region of Flanders.

But it may prove difficult to bridge the two leaders’ ideological differences, and De Wever has said he wants to avoid long coalition talks.

After taking advice from De Wever, the king will name a “formateur,” who tries to establish a stable coalition balancing the views of Dutch- and French-speaking voters and who typically becomes the next prime minister.

Reporting by Ben Deighton and Antonia van de Velde

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