Bow-tie fan Elio Di Rupo has become Belgium’s Prime Minister, emerging from a year-and-a-half of talks over a coalition government following a complicated June 2010 election result.
60-year-old Di Rupo (pictured) is the first openly gay male to become PM – while Iceland’s PM Johanna Sigurðardóttir was the first lesbian politician voted to power back in 2009.
Local new sources describe Di Rupo as a bright, hard-working and astute political operator who was ultimately the right person to engineer what had seemed impossible for so many months – a multi-party deal to form a new government.
An atheist and rationalist, he leads the country’s Socialist Party, and is often seen with his trademark red bowtie, and came out in the ‘90s after a pack of journalists pursued him, one of them asking: “they say you’re a homosexual!”
“I turned around and shot back: ‘Yes. So what?’,” the politician recalls. “I will never forget that moment. For several seconds there was silence. People were so surprised by my reply they stopped jostling each other. It was a sincere, truthful reply.”
The multi-language European country took a record-breaking 541 days of talks to decide which party would lead the nation, leading to some derision from its citizens who are keen for a new government to address fiscal reforms.
Belgium is home to around 11 million people, and in 2003 became the second country in the world (after The Netherlands) to allow same-sex marriages.