October 7, 2014 / 8:37 PM / 4 years ago

Belgium on course for government led by youngest PM

Charles Michel, head of the Francophone Liberal Party (MR), gestures to members of the media from a vehicle after leaving the Royal Palace in Brussels September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French-speaking liberal Charles Michel was on course on Tuesday to become Belgium’s youngest prime minister after the future ruling coalition concluded marathon talks to settle the budget.

Michel, 38, could be sworn in as early as next week after the four centre-right parties seeking to form a government ended 28 hours of talks to determine how to achieve a balanced budget by 2018.

Michel will take over from fellow French speaker, socialist Elio Di Rupo, and will be the first French-speaking liberal leader of the country since 1938.

“Charles Michel becomes prime minister,” tweeted fellow party member and budget minister Olivier Chastel.

Belgian elections were held in May and it often takes months of detailed discussions before a government can take office.

However, with a deal on the budget, a government could be just days away, with future discussions centring on ministerial posts.

The future centre-right government, which includes the Flemish separatist N-VA party, wants to cut Belgium’s debt, currently among the highest in the euro zone at about 100 percent of gross domestic product.

They are due to unveil budgetary plans on Wednesday. These are expected to include more spending cuts than tax hikes.

Earlier on Tuesday, the four centre-right parties agreed to raise the state pension age to 67 from 65.

Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop

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