Parliament is not an environment for fools. The same ritual has been repeated week after week: the prime minister has to go through the meat grinder of the opposition. It seems a distant past that nine parties once gave support to this government. Meanwhile, the minority cabinet also suffered a severe defeat around the miners’ pensions.
In the news: Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) herself looked ahead to what the next National Security Council should arrange.
The details: The prime minister wants to give hope rather than start a heated debate in the mud pool of the House. But whether that really worked?
- “We hope one on May 18 take more relaxations to allow: for example, we want to arrange for the markets, for the contact professions such as hairdressers and beauty experts, museums, sports for young people should also be possible again, but we will also arrange important moments in people’s lives such as weddings and funerals ”, Prime Minister Wilmès said in parliament during question time in plenary.
- In doing so, she focused on the next session of the de facto highest policy-making body at the moment: the National Security Council. Wilmès chose to spread those boards over several sessions, week after week. Therefore remains the tension arc: what will be possible again next time?
- But at the same time, this approach also leads to annoyance: can the whole process not go faster? “Why can neighboring countries sketch a much broader framework at once and is it so miserably slow for us? The answer lies with the Prime Minister, who may want to spend a little too much time on all the details, and does not trust her own ministers, “an insider says.
- In any case, the corridors confirm what the Prime Minister hinted: normally, a lot more will be arranged at the Security Council next week. The schools will reopen in this way by 18 May, but a whole wave of activities will immediately be possible again. It is pointed out that the plans are ready, but that people absolutely no longer want to arrange “too much at once” again. That was the analysis after the bad press conference last time: the agenda had to be lighter. But this is how certain decisions are delayed.
- Among other things, a comprehensive plan for sports, which the Länder have arranged and worked out among themselves, was already ready for the previous Security Council. It is what Wilmès referred to when she spoke in the Chamber about “young people” who are allowed to exercise. That is the plan allow children under the age of 12 to participate in all sports activities without restrictions: a social measure with a huge impact. But it is still a week to wait.
The essence: Opposition and majority would no longer exist in corona times. Nothing is less true. Week after week, Wilmès waits for one firing squad in the hemisphere, where it is painfully visible that the current minority government is really only a minority.
The details: This is how the debate went yesterday:
- Wilmès herself could not be dissatisfied after her last press moment: she had scored with some humor and self-perspective (“rest assured, there will be no powerpoint”), but also with better, clear communication about a “contract” between government and citizens. She tried to continue this approach, from occasionally laughing at herself, in the Chamber: “There is a new word in Dutch now, a”walk“”, She hinted at the neologism she had created a day earlier during her press time, when she urged people to take a walk regularly.
- But that more positive vibe did not translate in the Chamber at all. There she again hardly got supporters for her policy. The only profit point: the “Own” small core government parties supported her this time. Where last week both CD&V, via Nawal Farih, and Open Vld, via Christian Leysen, had intervened critically and demanded ‘clear communication’ and ‘stronger leadership’, it was now the group leaders Servais Verherstraeten (CD&V) and Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld ) who came to the rescue of ‘their’ prime minister.
- “Your performance was”power“And it was”to the point“”, Launched Lachaert. This is striking, because the Flemish liberals do indeed hear a lot of criticism of the prime minister. This was certainly not the case on the stage. At CD&V, perhaps even more striking, Verherstraeten fully defended the prime minister: “There may be people here in De Kamer and beyond, who will put salt on each snail. But there is a much larger majority, who will regain freedom thanks to their responsibility. Pas à pas on va loin! ”
- CD&V found that support was necessary after just about every group had eagerly thrust themselves into the prime minister. Perhaps most striking was again the attack of the PS, the party that still works with Elio Di Rupo (PS) as Walloon prime minister week after week with the prime minister, and who have apparently built up considerable cooperation in the meantime. Certainly the “social measure” to allow each family to see four people came at the explicit request of the PS to cover their “humane” flank.
- But in the Chamber nothing of that “cooperation” between PS and MR. Patrick Prévot (PS) hacked into the Prime Minister about the mouth masks, which are still not there, while the responsibility now lies with a whole series of ministers. The prime minister was visibly annoyed and fired back. She firmly reminded Prévot “that the federal states have their responsibility in this matter”. It remains symbolic: the largest French-speaking party, is it taking a bath or not?
- The attitude of N-VA, the largest on the Flemish side, is strikingly different from the PS: while the French-speaking socialists show themselves assertive and sharp week after week, Peter De Roover (N-VA) allows himself to remain calm, and he remains deliberately ‘mild’. “We are pleased that essential travel is being replaced by common sense, police control by citizenship and Wetstraat by society,” said De Roover. He talked about the mouth masks just a joke, from the time of the Soviet Union: “The federal government has good and bad news. Good news: the mouth masks are free. Bad news: there are no face masks. ”
- The fact that the PS remains so sharp in the House has a lot to do with the PTB / PVDA. The communists weigh, with Raoul Hedebouw and Peter Mertens slamming into the prime minister week after week, firmly on the debate. Especially in French-speaking Belgium. “We have six ministers for mouth masks. Crazy. Should we have another seventh for the elastic bands perhaps? And worst of all? They just aren’t there, those mouth masks. A shame ”, Hedebouw threw at the feet of the prime minister.
- On the Flemish side there is on the right the tandem between Vlaams Belang and Jean-Marie Dedecker (independent), Wilmès stays on the skin week after week. That is not exactly subtle. For example, Dedecker fulminated this week: “I don’t see the reason why we should keep banning second-stayers from coming to the coast. There is no virological reason. You smile in the face of the many traders on the coast who should now be happy with a dead sparrow. “
- However, parties such as sp.a and cdH remain critical week after week. With their specialists in Public Health, such as Karin Jiroflée (sp.a) and Catherine Fonck (cdH), there is a lot of knowledge about the medical approach, and it just does not go as many would hope.
- Finally, it is striking that the greens are the only ones who would like to maintain the illusion of a “broad” government from opposition. Green group leader Kristof Calvo had striking praise for the prime minister: “I have it myself enjoyed your humor and self-perspective during the press conference ”. The Greens hoped to achieve full government participation through the broad construction of a “super-core”. But that scenario is not going so smoothly: unlike Calvo in the House, Presidents Meyrem Almaci (Green) and Jean-Marc Nollet (Ecolo) are tough customers for the Prime Minister in the super-core.
- By the way: the prime minister remains lack flexibility in such parliamentary exercises. She could easily have done a lot with Lachaert’s crosses, or even Calvo’s. But spontaneity is not in it: jokes can, but rather if they have already been calculated in advance. In that way, it is difficult to gain the upper hand over the bloodthirsty opposition.
Striking to follow: In the Chamber, the liberals were all alone in a very symbolic mood yesterday. Waterloo followed.
- They supply the Prime Minister, and with Daniel Bacquelaine (MR) they have the Minister of Pensions and David Clarinval (MR) the Minister of Budget, but in the miners’ pension file the French-speaking liberals suffer a painful defeat.
- The only people who supported them in opposing a proposal by Groen to pay the miners retroactively a pension of € 25,000 in arrears, were the Flemish liberals. Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld) and co tried with all their might to stop that bill, which will cost an extra 190 million euros from the state treasury.
- Striking: CD&V, which is nevertheless in the government, and has been working for years as the party of stewardship, agreed happily with that substantial additional expenditure. But the “Limburgish” influence in the party made itself felt: locally this is an important file.
- The support for the miners was very broad. Not only was it striking that Vlaams Belang also voted with the left-wing parties there, but N-VA also participated in logic. Jan Spooren (N-VA) stated that there was indeed too little paid at the time, and the agreement with the miners was not loyally executed by the government, but that today again too much would be paid. That resulted in a half-hearted attitude: N-VA would abstain, but the Limburg N-VA voted in favor. “At the time, the Volksunie was part of the barricades for this file,” said Spooren Villa Politica.
- But it was mainly N-VA’s refusal to support Open Vld’s request to go to the Council of State, which finally put the light on green: the Flemish nationalists had enough seats to cover at least the whole thing on hold to put. But they didn’t want that. “The N-VA joins a left front, the Fleming paysLachaert sneered.
- This is how one painful bickering between Open Vld and N-VA: “If Open Vld had been present during the vote in committee, she could have intervened in the agreement to organize a second reading instead of that question for the Council of State. Absent from the committee and now speaking high … not our style, ”said group leader De Roover. Which immediately provoked a counter-reaction: Lachaert announced that he was present, via video. And the party spokesman for Open Vld talked about “a childlike excuse not to support this”.
- The fact is: Parliament is now doing exactly what it makes sense. There is no longer an actual majority to govern the country. There are ad hoc coalitions around files. But the bill does not seem to anyone: another 190 million euros on an already completely derailed budget, who will soon offer more? It was the MR who was so enthusiastic at the time to reinstall the farewell cabinet: today we have to they then collect the shards.
Hard against soft: It continues to crackle between Minister of Health Maggie De Block (Open Vld) and the medical sector.
- A new petition, already signed by more than 10,000 people, calls on Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) and the nine health ministers in this country to take better care of the care sector: Take Care of Care, the French-speaking initiative, has already the letter has also been translated into Dutch.
- The letter is quite loud:
- “The tests are still underway always inadequate and the approach for using serological tests has not yet been established. ”
- And further: “Masks of good quality are missing still everywhere. ”
- Then: “The sequence of the easing phases is foreseen without consultation with the healthcare professionals involved inside and outside the hospitals. ”
- And also: “We recommend to the population not to be infantilized and to inform them in a clear and objective manner. We advocate a joint responsibility of all actors in the field. ”
- They now demand, among other things that requires face masks in all public areas.
- Jacques de Toeuf, the former chairman of ABSym, shared the Belgian Association of Doctor Syndicates, the appeal to the Prime Minister and to De Block.
- The latter reacted very strongly: “You were decades in the lead to drive our healthcare. You have a shared responsibility here. Especially for this fragmentation. ”
War on the coast: It was inevitably coming. The governor’s ego encounters that of the mayors by the sea.
- A few politicians have already arisen in this corona crisis, who have been able to profile themselves firmly. In the list there are a few that at a lonely height floating above the rest, we mention a few names: Carl Decaluwé (CD&V), the West-Flemish governor who easily gets the press, or Bart Tommelein (Open Vld) who can hardly be burned off the screen, and of course Jean-Marie Dedecker (LDD) who keeps playing himself in the spotlight.
- This trio is now going to a clash. After all, the mayors of the coast have been quite taken aback by the fact that their second stayers are not allowed to return to the coast. Where Tommelein, among others, was absolutely not waiting for those residents at the start of the crisis, he has now approach rotated 180 degrees.
- Tommelein already announced that it is impossible to continue enforcing these measures, because visits to four people can now, per family, but not go to their own apartment by the sea? Dedecker was even brighter. In the Chamber he announced “not to have any checks carried out by its police officers from 18 May“. “And I usually stick to what I say, you can send the federal police to me if you want to,” Dedecker emphasized in Parliament, to Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.
- But there comes Decaluwé now. “They don’t have to decide. They have to follow the rules or we will force them, ”he speaks boldly in Het Nieuwsblad. “There is no time for it farce, Hey. ”
- The governor, who calls himself “representative of the federal government”, is determined to act: “We are in a federal crisis plan, the situation is serious. The task of the local police zones is to check whether the measures are being followed. When I see that this manifesto is not happening, I can intervene. By adjusting the policy or by making agreements with the federal police. ”
- The big clash is coming Monday. Then Sheriff Decaluwé and the mayors sit together with Zuhal Demir (N-VA), the Flemish Minister of Tourism. That will be a pleasant meeting.
New bosses, new laws: Conner Rousseau, the new party leader of sp.a, is thinking about a name change.
- “Die, you old forms and thoughts,” the socialists sing in their International for a reason. Every now and then concepts need to be overhauled. Like maybe the party name? Conner Rousseau (sp.a) is thoroughly renewing his party, including one metamorphosis of the brand itself, of that “sp.a”, not matter.
- “It has never been an end in itself. But it is possible be the icing on the cake of a renewal process ”, says Rousseau about a possible change of the name in De Morgen. “But maybe my face is enough as a new sign?”
- It was marketer Patrick Janssens, chairman of the party at the beginning of this century, who made something different from the SP, the “socialist party”, literally, with sp.a, or “Socialist party different”. It was part of a larger operation, which eventually turned Steve Stevaert into the big star that led the Socialists to electoral gains.
- But changing the name can also lead to failure. In 2009 the name was changed to “Socialists and progressives different”, to please Bert Anciaux and his leftover Vl.Pro, a remnant of the left wing of the Volksunie and later Spirit. Sp.a mayor of Leuven Louis Tobback, among others, reacted furiously. The name change was then reversed.
- At the sp.a today it is part of a larger operation of internal reorganization. So the party moves from the Grasmarkt to the Keizerlaan, to withdraw to the PS. Not so much for ideological reasons, but out of financial necessity: it provides a significant saving.
- Furthermore, Rousseau also focuses more strongly on a back office of the engineering department, and one much larger cell to do social media. The provincial departments are trimmed violently: so more power will be central to the sp.a.