De Croo as hope in anxious days: French-speaking Belgium dreams of a government without an N-VA

Everything returns in the Rue de la Loi: Paul Magnette (PS) is once again calling on the N-VA, in no way is he preparing his supporters or the French-speaking public opinion to have a Bart De Wever (N-VA) make a deal. In the corridors the hope is again for Open Vld: “Shouldn’t Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) become prime minister?” It scored among many French speakers with its “Belgian” plea to re-federalize healthcare.

In the news: The lockdown makes his long-awaited exit softly but surely.

8AM Wetstraat Insider

The details: While the virus is fading into the background, government formation is once again on the forefront in Wetstraat.

  • Paul Magnette joined RTL on Sunday Cest pas tous les jours dimanche make his say. The context was interesting.
  • Magnette refused carrément to debate with other chairmen just wanted to do a one-to-one interview, which immediately led to commotion in French-speaking Belgium.
  • Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) was in the same program the week before in a mud bath ended up: between him, Raoul Hedebouw (PTB / PVDA) and Jean-Marc Nollet (Ecolo), there was a strong uproar, screaming and interrupting, with Joachim Coens (CD&V) almost having to take shelter as the fourth man at the table.
  • Not so for Magnette, who thanked her for that. “I would prefer it if the mayor of Charleroi, Paul Magnette, accepted to participate in debates among presidents, such as last week, rather than writing books on breadBouchez sneered. Just to say, “The atmosphere is good,” under French-speaking chairmen.
  • No, Magnette did not come to RTL to venture into the ring with the MR chairman, he is boxing on a different level: that of Bart De Wever (N-VA), that other “chief”, on the other side of the country. It had to be answered for a moment.
  • After all, De Wever had made his say exactly one week before. The N-VA chairman was in favor Jekyll and Hyde played: on the one hand he called Magnette to a ‘big deal’, a ‘big coalition’ between N-VA and PS, on the other hand he tapped out that “Magnette had made a fatal mistake by running away from a deal with N -VA ”and especially“ that the PS wanted to pass on the invoice to those who work, save, undertake, in short, the Fleming ”.

The essence of Magnette’s message: The PS chairman does not deviate from his line, on the contrary, he threatens with two sticks behind the door.

  • Magnette’s message was not really surprising. He once again distanced himself from the N-VA: “He hasn’t changed yet: once a month Bart De Wever hurts the Walloons and attacks the PS. I am not obsessed with the N-VA: 85 percent of Belgians have not voted for it. Let’s stop doing it as if Bart De Wever is the center of the world whether it is the sun king, “he said.
  • Magnette made a deal with De Wever in the run-up to the weekend of March 14 and 15 to make an emergency government. After massive reaction from the base, with a stream of emails from mandataries, but also pressure from the unions, Magnette returned his cart on Saturday, and supported the minority cabinet Wilmès II on Sunday, which is completely dominated by the liberals, and certainly great French-speaking rival the MR.
  • Magnette came somewhat damaged from that episode: not only should he have taken a turn internally, he had burnt his fingers at the same time at De Wever. Yesterday, he stated that he and the N-VA boss “have been out of contact for two months.”
  • And yet Magnette promised a government in September, with negotiations starting in June. “That is the goal.” He also expressed the threat of elections: why not? And if that stick wasn’t enough, one second stick behind the door: a minority government if there is no other option.
  • In any case, it is almost certain that Wilmès II will continue in June, even if the minority cabinet loses its powers of attorney. Because a vote of confidence should only be in September, and who knows, it may even be extended. “This is not my preference, it is still better to have a real government, but chaos and immobilism would be even worse. “
  • In other words: the PS does not want too much pressure on the boiler, and no scenario in which they are “forced” again to sit down with the N-VA. And if you have to? “I’m waiting to see if the N-VA is prepared to make concessionsHe stated laconically. Those concessions? Magnette has, among other things, a wealth tax and a complete institutional standstill, plus a whole series of social measures that cost extra money, as requirements.

And now? The pessimism about a possible deal between N-VA and PS remains very strong.

  • One big argument: that way you draw all the states into one government. Jan Jambon (N-VA) and Elio Di Rupo (PS) already work well together as prime ministers of the Flemish and Walloon governments. In this way you create a stable federal team in one fell swoop, which bathes everyone: the pacification of Belgium as it were.
  • The question is whether it is still possible. Magnette was not really at the table with the N-VA for the first time in March, but never at any time prepared his constituency, the broad base of the PS, for such a coalition as possible. The N-VA remains just the ugly devil, where people like to walk around in French-speaking Belgium.
  • That De Wever bitter came out of the whole episode is kicking in an open door. Nevertheless, N-VA can be heard that they do not exclude a deal with the PS and want to make careful contacts. It is and remains the only way to ever regain power federally.
  • In the Wetstraat it is always good to separate the theater from what happens in the wings. After last week’s statements, Magnette was, in the inevitable PS-N-VA logic, almost obliged to ripost, with a burst of enmity. What really matters is whether both will be able to sit together in peaceaway from the cameras. Various insiders do not consider this opportunity non-existent. Only, between a meeting and a real agreement, there is still a sky-wide difference.

Striking last weekend: Suddenly there is hope for Alexander De Croo (Open Vld).

  • Every Flemish politician of any caliber who wants to score comes in French-speaking Belgium with a story he or she Belgium wants to strengthen. This weekend, De Croo put forward the idea that Public Health, now fragmented over nine ministers, should return to federal level. This led to enthusiastic reactions from parts of public opinion in French-speaking Belgium. Bouchez too, but Magnette also wants that. This is a bit surprising with the PS: they have the greatest difficulty with the current federal policy, as set out by the liberal Maggie De Block (Open Vld).
  • Also striking: the explicit praise of Kristof Calvo (Groen) this weekend on Twitter for De Croo his cross. De Croo has been there in the top slide for some time now: he has been praised for his “cooperation” that he sets up with Parliament, including on tax matters. It gives De Croo a different profile. Suddenly, the liberal is a “bridge builder”: in French-speaking Belgium this weekend was buzzing with rumors, De Croo was apply for the premiership?
  • Such a construction would then mean that a deal can be made with Open Vld, in order to make a Vivaldi coalition. It is clear that De Croo counts as ‘hope’ of such a construction somewhat ironic: he was, together with Georges-Louis Bouchez, in the fall of 2019, the biggest opponent in the group that wanted to turn purple-green at the time.
  • But soon with Gwendolyn Rutten (Open Vld) “out of the picture“, It is not illogical that the man from Brakel comes into the spotlight. In any case, if Magnette doesn’t want to deal with N-VA, then he does need the Liberals to make a government. And although he previously had a lot of praise for Sophie Wilmès (MR), who he described as “center”, while taking De Croo as “right”, it is a hundred times more interesting for the PS not to have a French-speaking prime minister: you don’t make rivals electoral big.
  • “Wilmès had her chance, but as prime minister, he doesn’t build bridges. On the contrary, the relationship has soured with a few Flemish presidents. And take your phone as prime ministerAnd putting in some effort to keep the mail you just got as a gift is too much to ask? ”says one of the super-core members.
  • Magnette himself does not seem to be making any moves to ever take The Sixteen, even though the socialist family is the largest in the Chamber, so he has the mathematical right to do so. “But in a Vivaldi coalition, which leans heavily on French-speaking voices, the highest position could conveniently go to a Fleming. And which change is better, than to give the Sixteen to De Croo? ”, says an insider.

Discussions on the methodology: Before the items are distributed, an agreement must first be negotiated.

  • The way in which those negotiations will run methodologically will already be very indicative of which coalition one wants to end with. And who is involved in those negotiations as a “tractor”, as a “coalition maker”, afterwards it has the best chance at the Sixteen: this is how it ‘goes’ normally with federal coalition formations.
  • In this sense, candidate-president Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld) also made a proposal that should not be misunderstood. “The PS and the N-VA are not going to find each other spontaneously, that is now clear. The other parties may fulfill a bridge function. I want a substantive note on the table, ”he stated in De Zondag.
  • He wants to make a note with the three current government parties, a start note that focuses on “economic recovery, with social accents and within a responsible budgetary framework”. And most striking: he wants to make it with Open Vld, MR and CD&V, “supplemented with the sp.a of Conner Rousseau who is constructive in this crisis ”.
  • By not taking the sp.a and PS to the table, already some of the socialists are participating. And with the sp.a you can go purple-yellow, but you also need them for purple-green. So everything is open, although the note is primarily intended to glue PS and N-VA again. But if that doesn’t work, then the “center parties” already have a solid document to grab the greens: then choose or share.
  • Incidentally, there is veto about “Flemish majorities” no way more, if it is up to Lachaert later, as possible boss of Open Vld. An important opening.
  • In any case, chairman Joachim Coens (CD&V) takes a brief look compromise oriented note: above all, he does not want to exclude anything, so he no longer has vetoes to form a coalition without N-VA, or just as well without a “Flemish majority”. Whether this also applies to the premiership, which CD&V should then ignore, remains an interesting question, which has clearly not been clarified internally.

In the special messages category: The bizarre copycat behavior of Maurits Vande Reyde (Open Vld) on social media.

  • Quite strange: it seems that Maurits Vande Reyde, Flemish Member of Parliament and ships in Diest for Open Vld, has been real copy paste operation is running. Since October 2019, he has taken over the tweets from sp.a chairman Conner Rousseau, albeit with slightly adapted headers and images.
  • The copying goes quite far: have a whole series of posts the same images, and almost the same accompanying texts. On Twitter, a supporter of the sp.a chairman drew everyone’s attention to the behavior of Vande Reyde, and she listed all posts neatly. The whole is quite punitive, as it appeared on newsmonkey.
  • Commenting on Twitter, Vande Reyde says that he also has “internet and newspapers”. He also accuses his critics of bullying. “Never stole anything from anyoneHe still claims. “Never had any need for it. Not with 40 followers, not with 40,000. Hand on heart. It’s funny how advocates of debating hygiene become the biggest cyberbullies for others. ”
  • His defense “that he also reads newspapers” remains somewhat strange: posts by Rousseau dated newspaper articles that appeared weeks before, but suddenly a day later were taken over by Vande Reyde.

The clash that wasn’t there (or was it?): Bart De Wever (N-VA) and Marc Van Ranst were together on the “Great Corona Debate”, but not in the same panel. Too bad, because it might have had one after all fascinating debate, which was now fought afterwards.

  • Because both gentlemen continue to differ significantly. The N-VA chairman commented during the debate, which could be followed via livestream on HLN and VRT. De Wever argued for this at a second wave of corona (which almost everyone seemed to agree is coming soon) no more just put everyone in quarantine.
  • Such a proposal, which would result in, among other things, a much less strict lockdown, such as that applied in the Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries, means that only sick or people in trouble spots would be obliged to isolate.
  • “It is, I think, the first time in history that healthy people are resettledDe Wever said on the debate. He also indicated that there was no other option: we could not trace and test sufficiently. But next time it can be different, according to the N-VA chairman: “If we can do that now, then the next quarantine should be a quarantine of the sick and the infected, and not of the sent. The economy must run on healthy people. ”
  • Marc Van Ranst, who says he never makes political statements in his public role, could not just let that pass. And so because he was not on the panel of De Wever, he responded via the media, where he sits every day: VTM Nieuws became the platform to fend off. “Healthy people quarantine is not new at all“, He emphasized the” mistake “of De Wever. “It is certainly not the first time that healthy people have also been quarantined, for example with the SARS outbreak that already happened with entire apartment buildings.”
  • And Van Ranst certainly did not want to accept the idea of ​​”no more lockdown” from De Wever: “If a new corona wave comes here soon, the preference is of course for a” lockdown ultra light“, From limited places. But if a new wave takes on large proportions, it is not to exclude a lockdown as we have already experienced it. ”
  • In addition, this statement by Van Ranst: “A lockdown must work, that is the point. Now bluntly say: we choose the companies and the rest can forget, I can’t agree with that. ”
  • “Who has already caught Marc Van Ranst in his advice only some ideological coloring, may call me“, Said Luc Sels, the rector of the University of Leuven, in April about his colleague Van Ranst.
  • Incidentally, De Wever did not allow himself to be dismissed as a “liar”. “Quarantine is derived from quaranta giorni (40 days), a measure of Venice in the 14th century: sailors were not allowed to disembark to combat the plague. Collective houses outside the city for people with plague or leprosy also existed with us in the Netherlands. The US had islands where it raised people with tuberculosis, yellow fever, smallpox, and cholera. Everyone knows Ellis Island for quarantine migrants. But I really don’t know of any historical example of a medical lockdown or quarantine of everyone in an entire country at once. ”

Imperative questions: How well organized is the contact tracing system now, given our privacy?

  • What everyone saw from miles away is now suddenly in the middle of the board. An app was under heavy fire because of “Too invasive” for privacy: because then you could use your phone to check where people had been everywhere. Discussions on encryption of data, on protection of sensitive data, which has been going on for years digitally, flared up in Parliament. That made a strict framework, for an app that will probably never come.
  • But the alternative? Through ‘manual detection“: People in a call center will call you if you are infected and ask who you have been in contact with. But now criticism arises about that: because how privacy-proof it is?
  • The database created at Sciensano, who has access to that? How sure are we that people with access handle privacy better than computers? The royal decree to settle the matter is already under fire from privacy specialist professor Jacques Englebert at ULB.
  • In La Libre he is keen: “We can legitimately ask ourselves whether, even in case of necessity, it is normal that this text has not been tested by the Council of State? Why has there not really been a debate on this? ” After all, the system allows Sciensano to record the national register number and link it to the medical data. These data will then receive a “pseudonym”, but whether that is sufficient? “The question is really whether this is still a proportional measure.”
  • For example, Sciensano plans to retain the data for up to 30 years after the patient’s death. “People focus on that app, but the manual tracing is much more problematic for privacy ”, says Professor of Computer Science Huges Bersini (ULB). Earlier Johan Vande Lanotte, former minister for sp.a but today a human rights lawyer, also launched a similar attack on the system in De Standaard.
  • Striking, the weak response from Sciensano himself: “The person responsible for the project is not there at the moment. Given their agenda, it is not possible to answer questions. ”
8AM Wetstraat Insider


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