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Wilmes named Belgium’s first female prime minister

Belgium’s King Philippe officially named Budget Minister Sophie Wilmes interim prime minister on Sunday, making her the first woman to hold the post.

Wilmes, a liberal francophone, replaces Charles Michel, who is set to take over as European Council president in December.

Wilmes, 44, made her political debut in 2000 as a councilor in Uccle, outside Brussels. She went on to become a member of parliament in 2014 and joined the federal government a year later.

She was selected as the caretaker prime minister late Saturday by a small ministerial committee, but she has no parliamentary majority.

Belgium has not had a fully functioning federal government since a coalition headed up by Michel collapsed in December 2018.

Negotiations to form a new coalition have stalled since parliamentary elections in May produced fragmentary results.

Since early October, talks between the French-speaking socialist PS party and the Flemish nationalist N-VA party to form a new government have collapsed.

The parties must first bridge their differences before they can form a government and bring in other parties.

The first report of on their negotiations must be submitted to King Philippe on November 4.

Belgium, which hosts NATO and the EU, has a reputation for being ungovernable. In 2010-11, it had a record 541 days without a government.

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