Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) is rapidly experiencing the classic schedule of ‘celebrated hero’ in Rue de la Loi: after having been brought back in triumphantly as a prodigal son, then hailed as a new coronatologist, this weekend suddenly fell hard, after unfortunate communication . Government partners were ready with sharpened knives. Own chairman Conner Rousseau (Vooruit) and PS chairman Paul Magnette also came to the rescue: a slap on the wrist on Vandenbroucke is enough, but the “real mistake”, which is with the previous government, according to them.
First a little bit of good news: The infection rate goes into the single digits.
- For the first time in weeks, less than 10 percent of all tested persons are also effectively infected with COVID-19: on 28,600 per day, test now on average 9.9 percent positive. That is an important indicator: any positivity level above 10 percent indicates a real source of infection.
- Yesterday still 120 patients were admitted, but the number leaving the hospital also remains low, but 91 waved off yesterday. Yet more than 4,000 people are increasingly hospitalized, 900 on intensive care.
In the news: Frank Vandenbroucke (Forward).
- The corona crisis provides special times, also politically. And so Vandenbroucke is now experiencing at a rapid pace what would also happen in “normal” Wetstraat conditions, but at a much slower pace: the climb and fall of a new hero.
- When Conner Rousseau (Vooruit) first surprisingly conquered the crucial department of Public Health in corona times, and then even more surprisingly the slogan “he’s back bitches ”, unleashed on the world, that immediately created a shock effect. Vandenbroucke, who was coolly dismissed in his own party in 2009, returned past the big gate.
- And immediately the government team, the prime minister in the first place, followed by the media, again embraced “Franky-boy” as the returned prodigal son. Because Vandenbroucke did perfectly what he was cast for: take control of the crisis and radiate confidence, do it and above all explain it well, in its characteristic pedagogical style.
- But anyone who shoots to a lonely height in the Wetstraat (too fast) is also in danger of falling quickly and heavily. Not least because Vandenbroucke’s approach behind the closed doors of the government nevertheless arouses resentment: he overwhelms his colleagues, who have a lot less experience, and sets his foot in quite an authoritarian way when it comes to the corona crisis. goes. That evokes some jealousy, and then the poll has not yet appeared in which Vandenbroucke will probably shoot up even further.
- His headstrong approach, his hard line especially in managing the crisis, not only evoked sympathy. “Of course Vandenbroucke has no problem with the closure of the catering industry. That person never goes to a bar“, Colleagues of his in the government whisper with a wink.
- So it was a matter of waiting for the first one faux pas that the Flemish socialist would make could be deployed for a broad attack. The statements of Vandenbroucke in Friday To the point were only fully deployed during the weekend by the N-VA, which chose the attack, with chairman Bart De Wever (N-VA) personally in the trenches.
- Yesterday it turned out that the damage was quite large: at a number of government partners, not to mention CD&V and MR, but also the PS, Vandenbroucke was a “topic” on their party offices. Here and there a valve had to be opened to vent frustration.
- And there was also a “communication error” among the Flemish socialists themselves. Ahmed Laaouej, the leader of the PS in the Chamber, spoke about it “Unfortunate statements”.
- In the afternoon, Vandenbroucke’s cabinet resolved the experts’ advice on the closure of non-essential stores at the beginning of November. They showed two things:
- 16 of the 18 experts wanted a closure, it was indeed a decision of the Consultation Committee that was amply “covered” by medical advice.
- Vandenbroucke himself had actually communicated far too one-sidedly on Friday by stating too fiercely that “the block had to be put on it”, and actually admitted that by resolving the advice.
The big picture: The shoe pinches at the MR.
- For the MR, this government continues to wake up hard: after months of bathing in the opulence of no fewer than seven ministerial posts, including the premiership, they have to now set with a few posts on the sidelines of Vivaldi.
- Since 2014, the party has provided the prime minister without interruption, and it also had a deputy prime minister. Worthy of the name in any political discussion the MR was at the center of the decision. Chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) also weighed heavily in the formation of government, if only because of his unconventional approach.
- Today, the French-speaking liberals in no way still weigh within the government. Former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR) opted for her dream department with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the net result is little for the party. And people like David Clarinval (MR), Minister of the Self-Employed, and Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR), the Prime Minister of the French Community, are on the Consultation Committee, but can hardly leave their mark there.
- In addition, the reshuffle of the ministerial portfolios caused wounds in the formation of Vivaldi, internally at the MR. Someone like Denis Ducarme (MR) is now a loose cannon, who no longer adheres to any “party line”. As Minister of the Self-Employed in March, he himself closed the non-essential shops, but in recent days he fired on Vandenbroucke, and thus indirectly put permanent pressure on Clarinval.
- Bouchez has also been opting for weeks for a line that is at odds with the tough approach of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld), who absolutely wants to avoid a third wave, and who forms a duo with Vandenbroucke. The MR chairman emerges as the most committed “Noëlist” in the country: he wants us to be able to celebrate Christmas a little more widely.
- So yesterday there was another offensive from Bouchez. He demanded “an explanation” from Vandenbroucke in various French-language newspapers: “One should not play with the life’s work of many thousands of entrepreneurs, simply to create an electroshock. These are unacceptable statements, about which we need an explanation ”, he stated in La Meuse. “A very cheeky one“, It sounded on LN24.
- The French-speaking liberals continue to press for yet another Consultative Committee for the holidays, in the hope of still being able to join the “French line”: after all, President Emmanuel Macron has joined the southern neighbors. no social restrictions imposed for the holidays, as in Belgium.
The essence: The socialists assert themselves within Vivaldi, and push the MR back sharply.
- With the Flemish socialists they decided in the afternoon not to sit still: both Conner Rousseau (To the point) as Frank Vandenbroucke (The appointment) went to the public broadcaster to defend their cause, and also hitting a bit of mea culpa, in the case of the Minister of Health.
- “It is not new that opponents have someone (Vandenbroucke, ed.) try to falter. (…) We have seen MR’s approach in the previous administration. Easing too quickly has got us into this shit deposited. Of course, that was not smart either ”, Rousseau said.
- This analysis is not new: even within Vivaldi there are a lot of policymakers who readily admit that the previous government really did not work, and that mistakes were made in the approach to the virus that they paid in cash in the autumn. Only it is this is the first time that coalition partners point so explicitly to the previous team, and in particular the MR.
- That is not a coincidence either. At the top of the socialists, the attitude of the MR was aggravated for months at a time, which they believed allowed the government negotiations to drag on endlessly, deliberately, in order to enjoy the rich harvest of ministerial posts for as long as possible. That as a result, decisive policy was not possible, and that a shaky minority cabinet was preferred to a stable majority, just for the sake of power, was experienced as very cynical, and leaves a bitter aftertaste until today.
- But Georges-Louis Bouchez is not the man to step aside. Barely minutes after Rousseau’s performance on To the point, the MR chairman had already prepared a reply: “The MR has not eased too quickly. Let’s keep talking serenely about the measures needed to combat the virus. Crisis management with a balance between (mental) health, solidarity, economy and society. Without symbols. ”
- PS Chairman Paul Magnette then appeared on RTBF radio this morning to shed light on the matter. The PS boss has turned in recent months kept remarkably quiet: Deliberately, in order to give the De Croo government every opportunity, and not to play the government’s mother-in-law.
- The PS is and will of course remain the largest government party, and so is listened with a little more attention when Magnette speaks.
- To begin with, he scolded Vandenbroucke: “I regret his statements, they are incorrect in content, and clumsy in form. That creates confusion, and that is really the last thing we need now. We just need clear lines, and a framework and a perspective. ”
- Of course they know Vandenbroucke at the PS. In previous collaborations, that relationship was clouded, but Magnette smiled and defended the Minister of Health: “Each has its style, each has its tone. Mr. Vandenbroucke is like that, always has been like that. He has not fundamentally changed. ”
- Subsequently, he could not resist also punching the MR: “We have to not make the mistakes of the previous government. It is a pity that we did not use the months from July to September, when some were in the process of creating government. But it is unfortunate that the previous government did not prepare the testing, or the barometer, or the approach to vaccinations. Anyway, that’s the past ”, Magnette said.
- This seems to have closed the matter for the time being: Vandenbroucke is being admonished, but at the same time the course remains unchanged. The PS, like the MR, is not present at the heart of the corona policy. There, too, it is observed that the duo De Croo-Vandenbroucke is playing, but one mainly looks at the day after corona. Because it is then, with the recovery period, that Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS) on Werk and Thomas Dermine (PS) on Relance wants to leave the PS mark.
- Although Magnette also remarkably left the door open a little bit for a new Consultation Committee: “Nothing is impossible. If it suddenly gets a lot better, why not? But that chance is very small. Only, we should not always focus on the negative, but also see the light at the end of the tunnel. ”
Also noted: Open Vld criticism of Vandenbroucke.
- Remarkably yes, while within Open Vld no one gets involved in the controversy between MR and the socialistsBart Tommelein (Open Vld) is stirring. As mayor of Ostend, he is particularly keen on Vandenbroucke, in Het Nieuwsblad.
- Because even this weekend, Vandenbroucke had once again placed the responsibility of the hustle and bustle in the shopping streets on the mayors: “If they cannot guarantee that there will be no crowds, the shops will have to close again if necessary. ”
- Tommelein wishes “not to be lectured from Brussels“, He shoots back. “I think it is a punishment that a minister addresses us in this way, while he let the NMBS do it. We have been asking for months to stop free train tickets and to limit the number of passengers heading for the coast. But people keep coming to my city. ”
- Tommelein, who was also candidate chairman in the spring but lost against the dark blue course of Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld), is no longer in the party office of Open Vld. But the Ostend mayor is therefore also free to give his opinion, a “freedom of speech“As it were.
Who knows: Will there be a Brexit deal this week?
- The miserable year 2020 could end in a complete ‘high point’ for Belgium, if Boris Johnson decides to no Brexit deal to sign, and thus crash out of the EU in a hard way.
- That would immediately mean that the economic damage from that scenario in the billions of euros is for the Belgian and especially the Flemish economy.
- At Politico they tip this week (again) as a crucial moment in the negotiations, After the major EU summit at the end of October already ‘make or break“Was, for the one that was not after that because the British just kept their feet stiff.
- Last weekend, the British side was already clear: “This will be a very important week,” said Dominic Raab on behalf of the British government. After all, it is already very difficult to handle a possible deal to get through the other parliaments of the EU member states.
- Start from 1 January 2021 the rates and all kinds of import rules, if there is no agreement: the clock is ticking violently, now that we are December 1. Any formal negotiating agenda has now been thrown overboard, and is now moving as quickly as possible.
- On the other hand, both sides think that doing nothing is in their favor. The EU is convinced that the chaos that will come from a hard Brexit will quickly bring the British back to the table in 2021. But the British also see it this way, especially politically: Johnson certainly does not want to come across as the first to fold. So it may well be that 2020 has another disaster in store for us.
- Michael Gove, Johnson’s right-hand man, stated on ITV this morning that it “indeed there may be a no-deal“.
Money, money, money: Everyone thinks that the political parties are getting too much money. But saving is difficult.
- More than EUR 32 million is paid out to political parties every year, based on the number of votes. This means that certainly the “larger” parties are particularly warm in it. For example, in addition to a political movement, the N-VA is now an SME that also rents out offices: they have easily bought the entire building of their party headquarters.
- The rule was introduced at the time to avoid parties had to beg from donors and weapon manufacturers to pay for their campaigns: the Agusta scandal revolved around that.
- Only, the scheme is actually too generous, almost everyone admits in the corridors of Wetstraat.
- But the debate about the real reforms of those grants is never touched: it always is extremely difficult to cut into your own skin. The N-VA therefore submitted, as a test, a proposal not to index the party allocations: that would save a good 600,000 euros for the parties and another 180,000 for the fractions. The N-VA should give up the most.
- But too many majority parties are clearly counting on that money: the proposal was voted down. It was particularly striking that Open Vld, which supported such a proposal last year, now voted against. But the majority clearly like to keep discipline tight: no varying voting behavior in the House, and therefore no savings.