Politics

“Children who do not get their will”: Marghem lashes out at the healthcare sector, Bouchez has to clean up debris for MR

“If children who do not get their will and lose the capital that has been built up in sympathy and admiration are lost,” said MR Minister Marie-Christine Marghem about the honor of doctors, nurses, who Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) turned their back on the Sint-Pieter UMC in Brussels. For example, a painful incident between the Prime Minister and her MR with the healthcare sector escalated further. This once again exposed the tense relationship between PS and MR

In the news: Today a lot of measures relax in the lockdown.

  • Finally the museums open again: if social distancing isn’t a problem somewhere, it’s here. But still they had to wait weeks longer than the shops or certainly the garden centers of the Boerenbond: Erst comes das Fressen, than that Moral.
  • Up to 30 people are allowed marriages and funerals. Coffee tables and receptions are out of the question.
  • Also zoos open again, in French-speaking Belgium Pairi Daiza made an enormous effort to lobby successfully. Amusement parks will remain closed for the time being.
  • Markets open again, with 50 places maximum.
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons, pedicures, nail salons and tattoo shops open again, but only by appointment.
  • Trainings club members are allowed again, but a coach must be present.

In the world news: The images of the prime minister, whose black Mercedes is surrounded by white and green uniforms of hospital staff, all with their backs to her, go around the world. The Guardian, Euronews, ParisMatch and the BBC, among others, reported on this, and they were certainly not alone. Belgium has not built up too strong a reputation as a result of the crisis: the high number of deaths per inhabitant (which is used as a frame of reference in various graphs and comparisons worldwide) paints the picture of a particularly badly hit country.

Important to know: Domestically, the case escalated politically in our own country on Sunday, thanks to the fire of fire Marie-Christine Marghem (MR).

  • Marghem is Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development in the Federal Government. She has been since 2014, so she is one of the senior officials in the government. But that did not exactly make her mild or less sharp: in recent years, the former Christian Democrat, who defected to the MR with the MCC (a left movement within MR) and thus completely launched her career, built a reputation for fierce pranks.
  • In the file of the nuclear power plants she left a trail of destruction: One conflict after another followed with the Greens and Socialists, who accused her of deliberately not hitting it, ensuring that extending the life of nuclear power plants would become an almost fait accompli. facto so.
  • Marghem showed her best side on Sunday. The visit of Prime Minister Wilmès to a number of Brussels hospitals, including the conscious Saint-Pierre, resulted striking images of about a hundred nurses, doctors and other staff, with his back to the Prime Minister’s black Mercedes. The protest had been bubbling for much longer: the prime minister had received a lashing protest letter from the same hospital a month ago from the surgeons, who complained about the lack of resources.
  • Wilmès hushed the matter on Saturday and stated that she had a “message of reconciliation” came. “I can’t imagine the post-crisis period being reduced to what was before. It will be necessary to structurally revalue the nursing profession. That’s a certainty, ”she told RTBF.
  • On Sunday, Marghem threw however gasoline on the fire, with a post on Facebook that quickly caught a lot of attention. Fortunately, the reception inside this hospital was warm, and there was dialogue about this difficult situation, about the needs in the sector and the prospects for improving this. ”
  • Then she went a step further: “Some at the entrance manifestly wanted to lose the capital of sympathy and admiration that has been built up in recent months, such as children who have not got their will, and who want a show syndicated politicized opposition led by left, who has had to remain silent until today, but who will do the maximum to be able to use this crisis for himself. “
  • Marghem thus expressed the anger about the action of the union, which lived within the MR: it was indeed the socialist union who had called for the “honorary hedge”. Only, Marghem’s statements were so fierce with the outstretched leg forward that they sparked a torrent of reaction.
  • Pretty soon in the afternoon, Marghem couldn’t help but take her message offline, but it didn’t make matters worse: the screenshots of her post and the words of her message were shared en masse on social media, by politicians from PS, Ecolo, PTB , but also CDH and DéFI. It was just “all against MR”.
  • “An MR minister of the Wilmès government that qualifies the nurses’ distress as ridiculous. Who treats the people of the care sector like children, who did not get what they wanted. What a contempt. The message may have been deleted in the meantime, but not the shame of such words“, Was the official response from the PS, which hit the sledgehammer.
  • Bouchez could hardly clear the debris. He came at 9:30 last night with his own tweet to calm things down. “The healthcare staff must be respected, as is her anger. That respect for the work that has been done will not be forgotten the day after the crisis. We are proud of you. We start the reforms with a dialogue. ”
  • Olivier Maingain, the nestor of DéFI, and known in French-speaking Belgium as a “statesman”, then slammed it hard: “The MR is now quickly trying to wipe the sponge about what Marie-Christine Marghem alleged. This way she becomes a real Theo Francken. The dignity of the ministerial function no longer exists, no longer has any value with people like this. In other times, a minister had been bound by a dismissal. “

The big picture: There is serious tension between liberals and socialists.

  • The whole initiative of the socialists, who “as the greatest”, drew the sheet, is not exactly comfortable with the liberals. To start with, the initiative going to sp.a and PS has not grown by consensus: it has been ‘caught’ by Paul Magnette (PS) and Conner Rousseau (sp.a), while both the MR and Open Vld have government feeling was alive that logically it would be their turn, so “in the middle of the bed”.
  • There is arithmetic, which always counts in the Wetstraat. But opposite the 28 seats that count PS and sp.a are the 26 seats of MR and Open Vld: not exactly a gap that justifies that a “red” agreement will have to be written. “People will have to take the liberals seriously into account,” it is said.
  • In addition, there had already been a violent collision between Prime Minister Wilmès and PS chairman Magnette on Saturday, on the super-core: the latter underlined that the government in Belgium is hopelessly lagging behind the other European countries, with a policy of recovery. Magnette asked the government to start with that, which the MR roughly rejected: “That recovery policy should just be part of a new government.” Or, as the prime minister said a bit aggrieved in the super-core: “We do in impossible circumstances already our best. ”
  • In that sense it was striking that Gwendolyn Rutten (Open Vld), the outgoing chairman of the Flemish liberals, on VTM again argued for a “purple ash” for the future government. Because just then MR and PS were fighting about the visit of the prime minister to the hospital in Brussels.
  • “After corona, a fully-fledged government will have to revive our economy and it will also require social reforms. We must first bake cake, but also divide it. Liberals and socialists can form that basisShe said. That was also the plan in the fateful weekend of mid-March, after PS and N-VA reached an agreement, socialists and liberals huddled together for 28 hours, to eventually see the “big government” fail.
  • But the strong man of the moment at Open Vld, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who had already been to the hairdresser this morning, just pointed his farewell chairman on Radio 1: “We must not anticipate the axis of the new government. That is all premature. The most important thing is that the new government parties start to cooperate well with each other: there is a need for this. We need to pull the same tie and get people through the crisis. This is only possible with parties that can find each other seamlessly, ”stated De Croo.
  • Immediately he also reprimanded Conner Rousseau. It had run out last weekend VTM News and Radio 1 and The Seventh Day explained his “mission”, which he started with Magnette. “It is not wise to make many statements about that now. That does not help the whole thing forward, ”said De Croo, even though Rousseau had not exactly given many details on radio and television.
  • Striking also: De Croo did not speak out about a “purple ash”, but instead called again to bring N-VA and PS together. “We had a crisis government, now we have to create a recovery government. Then you have to make political choices, remove the contradictions. If you want a good recovery plan, there has to be a certain political direction. Then is it makes sense to try to get the big parties on board, and want to be part of it. First we have to try to get the big ones in. ”
  • The MR also seems to be looking towards N-VA, in order to ideologically tilt the recovery policy to “right”. After weeks of tensions with Ecolo, it came to an outright war in the Senate on Friday, where the MR torpedoed Zakia Khattabi’s candidacy with much fanfare. Observers do not see this as coincidence: consciously distance yourself from Ecolo Bouchez suits very well at the moment.
  • But also at Open Vld there is still little enthusiasm on the right side to do business with the greens. Although it is mainly there to wait and see who wins the president race. The first round will be announced at the end of this week. That immediately brings the tension back to the surface: Magnette and Rousseau may be “the move”, but not to do anything at all, it is to be heard.

Interesting to follow: Can the government manage to smoke the peace pipe with white rage?

  • The whole Marghem case exposes a vulnerable flank of Wilmès II. Week after week sours the relationship between the entire healthcare sector and the federal government.
  • The circumstances were not ideal to start with: without PS or CDH in government, there is anyway also a tense relationship with the unions and pillars. Someone like Jean-Pascal Labille, the big boss of the socialist mutualities, has been facing the liberal Maggie De Block (Open Vld) with drawn knives for some time.
  • But the sometimes somewhat blunt way of communicating of the Flemish liberal minister of Health, and the overpowering of the pandemic escalated the matter completely. The unions repeatedly demanded the resignation of De BlockThis is also how Prime Minister Wilmès came under heavy fire: the French-speaking healthcare staff in Liège and Brussels, who signed massive open letters, did not turn to De Block, but the Prime Minister himself.
  • The matter has been going on for weeks, with no de-escalation: the visit of Wilmès this weekend proves that again.
  • The fact that it has now been decided by royal decree to be able to reclaim the staff in times of emergency and that non-medical staff may also be allowed to perform medical tasks, caused anger to spread completely: the Christian union has already filed a strike notice, for Brussels and Wallonia next week.
  • Now De Block is trying to calm things down a bit: she announces one in SudPress retraining the unemployed into nurses to fill so many more vacancies in healthcare.
  • Up to 180,000 jobs threatened by the crisis are expected, while at the same time a lot more people are needed in hospitals and the health sector. “We offer the opportunity with this new proposal to solve two problems: people who lose their jobs during the corona crisis can can be retrained as a nurse for free. They receive compensation if they follow that training, ”she says.
  • With this, De Block aims at 5,000 new jobs that can be filled in the healthcare sector. “We don’t just want applause for the healthcare sector every night. We want to find as many methods as possible to putting more helping hands on the ground. ”
  • De Block also more or less announced her future departure: “I don’t think they’re going to ask me again to be a minister, no ”, she said in Het Laatste Nieuws. But whether that can ease the pressure on her and Wilmès remains to be seen.

End of an era: After five and a half years, the military are leaving the streets, an old legacy of the National Security Council.

  • It is hard to imagine, but for five years now the army has been patrolling the streets and stations of major cities such as Brussels and Antwerp. Now those soldiers are finally disappearing, if at all it only completely done in September.
  • Immediately the end of a measure that was very controversial from the start, because it was rather symbolic. But in the government Michel N-VA and MR found each other blind on this theme, after the increased threat of terror. With operation “Vigilant Guardian” both soldiers put on the street, via the National Security Council: very against the will of Open Vld and especially CD&V. In protest, Kris Peeters (CD&V) then bought sausages on the Meir, which led to great tension with the N-VA.
  • Now the operation ends, which started in January 2015, when a terror cell was rolled up in Verviers and soldiers had to be deployed to assist the police in patrols and in the surveillance of sensitive places. Which could not stop the terrorist attacks of March 22, 2016. Afterwards, their presence increased even further: up to 1,800 soldiers entered the streets in this way. That cost about 200 million euros in total. So they will be gone in September, except around the Doel nuclear power plant.

To follow: The file of the second stayers continues to simmer.

  • It was already the subject of discussion on the super-core Saturday, with both sp.a and N-VA and CD&V calling for the measures to be relaxed: why can people with do not return a property on the coast?
  • But now the pressure also seems to be increasing legally: no less than 200 owners of a second home, either on the coast or elsewhere such as the Ardennes, go to court. They put the Belgian state in default.
  • It remains incomprehensible to them that they are not allowed to return to their property. They demand each compensation of 50 euros per person per daythat they cannot go to their second home. Moreover, they want to get that retroactively, starting March 23, the day the measures started. That reports Belga.
  • In addition to the legal arguments, there are also social elements in politics: many people sit on them very few square meters in the city. They have more space by the sea. And there is the economic: the coast is provided for more residents, the local middle class longs for consumers.
  • So the question is whether the government and the National Security Council can and want to wait so long before lifting the measure.
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