Politics

Christmas as a major commitment of a Consultation Committee: opposite MR, PS and CD&V are Prime Minister and Vandenbroucke

The Consultation Committee is relaxing the rules for shopping: non-essential products can also be purchased physically again, albeit with a lot of extra safety rules. It was difficult to do otherwise: all neighboring countries also relaxed, the Belgian shops were in danger of losing a lot. But the real commitment, for which everyone is on the edge of their seat, is how Christmas should be celebrated. On the Flemish side, CD&V is somewhat alone, on the French-speaking side there is much more pressure, from MR but also PS. N-VA remains remarkably silent in the debate.

In the news: It is already “Consultation Committee” that the clock strikes.

The details: Soon it will be weighed with a scale who has “won”.

  • We will not tell you anything new: “Christmas” has been the focus of political profiling for days now. It was Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) who was the first since the start of Vivaldi anyway developed the political strength to ‘set’ a theme as party chairman, despite fierce opposition initially in public opinion.
  • Bouchez does not do anything original: in many neighboring countries, including France and Germany, it has meanwhile been decided to make the rules between Christmas and New Year a bit more flexible for social contacts, in order to allow everyone to celebrate the parties with a wider circle. . Certainly for people who do not have a partner or children, this is a decision with a major impact.
  • And look, last weekend CD&V started to follow Bouchez in that reasoning. Annelies Verlinden (CD&V), Minister of the Interior, was also on that line in a weekend interview, to do “something” for the lonely countrymen, thus making the rules more flexible. This week, Deputy Prime Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) followed, and eventually Joachim Coens (CD&V) also put his cards on the table.
  • CD&V immediately takes something a unique position on the Flemish side: nobody else seemed to want to profile themselves on this file, even at N-VA it remains remarkably quiet this time, while Jan Jambon (N-VA) nevertheless has a firm finger in the pie on the Consultation Committee.
  • But where CD&V would like to profile itself as the party that also stands up for this ‘Christian’ party (which, incidentally, is also argued against, that the other religions were not given any exceptions either), the others still realize that they have to compete with a solid duo: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) and heavyweight Frank Vandenbroucke (Forward). Both have only walked the “strict” line in recent weeks: now maintain the discipline to absolutely avoid a third wave soon.
  • They are done with that the “hardline” of the virologists, headed by Marc Van Ranst, which has clearly regained influence since this summer, when he was thrown out of the Celeval. In the meantime, that advisory body has been completely removed, and decisions are now made from the Risk Assessment Group. The line with coronatologist Pedro Facon is clear, and both are in favor of the strict regime.
  • Certainly in the Flemish media, the flattening waltz dominates the entire debate: the same virologists keep repeating that relaxation is out of the question.

Very striking: The French-speaking politicians who also sit on the Consultation Committee appeared in the French-speaking press this morning.

  • The sensitivities are clearly different across the language border. Not unimportant: also with the big brother in France, there are already more lenient measures, and there is a prospect of being able to celebrate Christmas in a wider circle. And when Emmanuel Macron speaks, it resonates fiercely in Brussels and Namur.
  • The Walloon Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (PS) previously indicated the want to relax curfews (which is stricter in French-speaking Belgium now than in Flanders) and to think about relaxation for the holidays.
  • This morning PS Deputy Prime Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne repeated at RTBF what everyone knows, because there is a consensus about it: “We aim to reopen the shops on the 1st or 3rd December under strict conditions, with control of the public space, too. for non-essential stores. ” For the contact professions, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it remains to be seen.
  • The fact that Dermagne is already announcing this is telling: in principle, the new Vivaldi coalition this much possibly avoid cacophony for such decision moments, with no big announcements in advance.
  • But also Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR), the Liberal Prime Minister of the French Community, generously brushed his feet on that demand of not organizing a bid in the media: he showed up at LN24 this morning. He argued for “the reopening of the shops from Monday, with the necessary procedures”, but also “for it an extension of the family bubble for people isolated for Christmas ”.
  • It will soon become clear who is the winner: right something symbolic of Christmas, or no openings on that plane.

The hard numbers: The trends are very clear.

  • The number of infections drops to 2,765 per day, a decrease of 37 percent compared to a week ago. And that with the adjustment of the test strategy, which should increase the absolute figure.
  • The percentage of infected people compared to the tests is at 12.5 percent: still high. For the record: the “experts” want to target up to 50 infections per day to be “safe”. That is still a long way off.
  • But the pressure on hospitals is undeniably fading fiercely now: more than 250 people were admitted, a decrease of 31 percent. Yesterday there were 254, while at the same time 343 patients dropped out.
  • In total there are still about 4,400 corona patients in hospitals, with over 1,000 on intensive care.
  • The number of deaths is now at 150 per day, also one decrease by 20 percent.
  • So the question in all of this is when the occupation of hospitals has fallen enough to ease further. But in doing so, the experts are pushing as hard as possible to go down considerably.

Remarkable: Ecolo gives N-VA a taste of its own medicine.

  • The political mechanism for appointing former politicians to the Constitutional Court seems completely broken. Because Danny Pieters (N-VA) will not be appointed to that Court. It is Ecolo who is slowing things down, asking for a “global agreement” on the nomination process of candidates.
  • Ecolo’s attitude has everything to do with Zakia Khattabi’s (Ecolo) file. That former party chairman was a candidate to become a judge in that court, but her lack of legal knowledge, and her polemic attitude, caused a number of senators, N-VA in the lead, to break the unwritten rule around appointments in that court. so as not to torpedo each other’s candidates.
  • After all, in the Senate every judge must be appointed by a two-thirds majority. But because, among other things, a few Open Vld’ers and also PVDA did not keep to the agreement with Ecolo, and eventually the MR also ran, Khattabi’s candidacy was killed in the spring. Her ministry now in the Vivaldi government was a nice comeback, which was necessary after that painful defeat.
  • But it doesn’t stop there for Ecolo. This summer, the N-VA came up with the 63-year-old Pieters as a candidate, after all, it is up to the N-VA to appoint the next judge. Pieters has the right letters of honor: he is professor of social security law at KU Leuven and former president of the Senate.
  • But we are now at the end of November, and things are stalling: Ecolo first wants clearer agreements about the entire appointment procedure, according to L’Echo. So threatens a new political impasse around the Constitutional Court.

To follow: The socialist union wants to strike over… the right to strike.

  • It rained indignant reactions on social media, from N-VA, but also Open Vld, to the news: the ABVV will strike next week on December 1, to “defend the right to strike”. There will follow work stoppages. And there are also promotions on December 10th.
  • It is mainly the trigger that leads to anger: After all, 17 members of the ABVV have been convicted, personally, for “maliciously obstructing traffic” in a strike. In the congestion that arose, a surgeon became completely blocked, and a patient died as a result. A hospital in Liège filed a complaint and won the case.
  • The fact that the 17 are personally convicted has everything to do with the fact that unions do not have legal personality, precisely to avoid such convictions in case of damage after strikes. But the question is whether that condition is sustainable, if union members are then individually convicted.
  • The ABVV is also furious, because of the decision of the judge, they see striking as an absolute right: “This decision is a serious violation of the right to strike and threatens all social movements and any person who takes part in a protest action in public space.”

Fake news: The Flemish socialists want to prosecute members of parliament who spread incorrect information.

  • A particularly interesting topic to follow, soon in the Flemish Parliament: what about politicians who spread ‘fake news’ or incorrect information? Vooruit, led by party leader Hannelore Goeman, wants to take action against this, and comes up with a very drastic plan. She wants MPs “Who consciously and repeatedly spread fake news” before the deontological committee of the Flemish Parliament, she says in De Morgen.
  • Anyone could then file a complaint with Parliament, such as Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang) posts a video containing fake news, on his Twitter account. Because to be clear: Goeman clearly endorses Vlaams Belang in this.
  • It is then up to that committee, in which the other parties of the Flemish Parliament sit, to impose a sanction on their colleague. So Goeman wants to judge her colleagues, although she says “That the committee must be advised by fact-check organizations”.
  • It all sounds like a rather problematic construction: because how does this fit the right to freedom of expressionand certainly with the parliamentary rights of each representative. On Monday, the matter will be presented to the office of the Flemish Parliament, where all political groups are represented. The question is what will come of the proposal.

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