Magnette (PS) opens the dance: he beckons to the Sixteen for the first time, but N-VA is also interested this time

After Elio Di Rupo (PS) between 2011 and 2014, does the PS deliver the Prime Minister again? The dance was opened by Paul Magnette (PS), although many doubt whether it is really a sincere ambition. One thing is certain, the spirits have shifted over the premiership, both at PS and N-VA: they no longer leave that post to the “little ones”.

In the news: The super-core today welcomes a new face: Egbert Lachaert, who joins as new chairman of Open Vld.

8AM Wetstraat Insider

The details: Exactly one year after elections, it was the last of the presidential changes to be made.

  • It is quite spectacular: the list of presidential elections that was completed since 26 May 2019:
    • Conner Rousseau replaced John Crombez at sp.a.
    • Joachim Coens replaced Wouter Beke at CD&V.
    • Meyrem Almaci Björn Rzoska stopped trying to remain chairman of Groen.
    • It remained with Vlaams Belang Tom Van Greeken.
    • Only Bart De Wever His mandate continued at N-VA.
    • And now there is Egbert Lachaert at Open Vld.
  • It is not really necessary for Lachaert to act on files, as the group leader in the Chamber he knows where the clapper is. There is also not much on the agenda. There are four KBs on the table:
  • Apart from the arrival of Lachaert, no fireworks. The statements are known, after a mess last week between Magnette and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR): a full-fledged government is needed, a rapid recovery plan actually, but should both go hand in hand, or separately?

The big picture: A few important positions have shifted in the courtship dance of government formation.

  • The PS chairman Magnette went not by chance To the point, after months of refusing to come. But this time, the mayor of Charleroi had to deliver a strategic message. However, it is not possible for his Dutch to be so limited on Flemish television: it is impressive how easily the man from Charleroi stands up in the language of Vondel.
  • The PS chairman only ran into problems once, when asked whether in the middle of March his lack of support in his own party did not neck him to make a large coalition, an emergency government with N-VA. More than symbolically, the PS boss lost his words, only to come up with the idea “that a chairman must” incarnate his party “: a euphemism to say that he has been whistled back.
  • But March’s Magnette is not May’s: he seemed particularly clear, and was not impressed by Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) ‘s allegations. The MR chairman does not consider the initiative of the PS and sp.a, as the largest family, to make contacts legitimate. “Do I look like I’m planning a coup, Ms. Cools,” Magnette smiled at the VRT host with all her charm.
  • He couldn’t resist mentioning “his good friend Conner Rousseau”. But much more relevant to the sp.a chairman, and the rest of the Wetstraat, was that Magnette was shown on a Flemish TV screen by no means closed the door to N-VA. At the very least, it gives options to be able to sit down at the table, something that remained “unspeakable” months before the scenes, while the contacts took place behind that stage. So if your own supporters have to come along, that corner has already been taken.
  • Whether full steam is sailed towards purple-yellow with that, is a completely different story. But a second, politically very relevant, statement came when Magnette did not rule out the premiership: “If at some point a nice project is on the table, after a long discussion, with a strong team and when people around the table say “Paul Magnette must or may become prime minister,” then I will not refuse that. But I will never put personal ambitions above my priorities. ”
  • That is an important tactical change in the attitude of the PS. They have never claimed premiership so far: the passage of Elio Di Rupo (PS) in the Sixteen in 2014 was after the elections internally digested by a large part of the party party at the time.
  • But these are different times: the biggest economic crisis in human memory is coming to us after a pandemic. Now stand on the front of the deck and lead, that provides a bonus, if it happens vigorously. It would also be a way to distance yourself from the PTB / PVDA: “They have nice slogans, but when do they actually do something concrete?” Magnette sneered about them.
  • Moreover, “leaving open” the ambition, by the PS, has already proven to be a murder pit in the past, also to try a Vivaldi or purple-green construction. Because because the PS offered the Sixteen far too quickly to Flemish partners, they were immediately put away as ‘judas’, which for the greater honor and glory of the Sixteen sell their soul to the red devil. It happened to Gwendolyn Rutten, the former chairman of Open Vld, in the fall of 2019.
  • And also at CD&V, that other crucial partner in a Vivaldi, leaving the Sixteen open led to tension: the logical candidate there is current Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens (CD&V), in the poll of De Standaard / VRT today also the most popular CD & V’er . But does the rest of the party want him to? Better keep those difficult pots covered, by jumping into the dance as a PS to the Sixteen.
  • Because Magnette left the door open yesterday: “We had three French-speaking prime ministers: Di Rupo, Charles Michel (MR) and Wilmès. With all due respect to Prime Minister Wilmès, but perhaps now is the time to have a Dutch-speaking Prime Minister. ” It does raise the suspicion on the Flemish side that Magnette says it, but does not really want the post of Prime Minister. But in the tactical game it is not an illogical move.
  • It is important to note this well: there is another big game in the game for the Sixteen. The N-VA, which left the post to Charles Michel (MR) in 2014, is one does not intend to repeat that “construction error” again: they want the strongest people on board, and logically the biggest party in the Sixteen. That is an important change of course, which has to do with the current crisis.
  • The reasoning is just like with the PS, that now the leaders have to work hard, and if they do, there is something electoral to pick up. For example, a coalition would soon be the case all big names can count: both Magnette and De Wever in a federal government. Already in March, when the corona crisis broke out, De Wever spoke those words openly: his party line has not changed in the meantime.
  • The Flemish liberals are also on that line of thinking: “No bullshit, all heavyweights just have to get in“, Can be heard in the highest circles at Open Vld.

What about the negotiations? Lachaert’s arrival opens doors and closes others.

  • The new Open VLD chairman don’t let any grass grow over it. Lachaert immediately met Magnette yesterday, in the foyer of the VRT: both were in To the point. A “pleasant meeting, we are therefore nice people”, it sounded with a wink. Next week, an appointment is scheduled between the socialists and Open Vld.
  • On the question during To the point Whether Lachaert “acknowledges” the initiative of the socialists and therefore finds their mission credible, he remained very vague. As group leader, the Open Vld chairman already put the plan on the table anyway negotiate from CD&V, Open Vld and MR, as one block. The sp.a could “possibly join in”, to make an agreement from the center.
  • In the Wetstraat you do not have to have a crystal ball to see that the liberal family could be played apart: if sp.a and PS absolutely want to go together, then there is on the Flemish side with both N-VA and Open Fld and CD&V and sp.a one party too many, that is how many feel. That discussion is already months oldbut may well reappear soon if purple-yellow paths are taken. After all, everything comes back after months of the same exercises.
  • It explains why the MR has been struggling for days to get something different than the socialists who are on the move. Today Prime Minister Wilmès himself makes another attempt, by arguing in De Tijd for “the broadest possible coalition”. She wants to leave ten, the “grande union“To see who is left.
  • It is part of the dropout race that now houses Wetstraat. A scenario in which ‘as wide as possible’ is started, to be determined first that Ecolo is not comfortable with N-VA and MR and Open Vld joining the coalition is something the MR has been brooding on for a long time: for example, the green wing naturally falls off, and then the ‘broad coalition’ can be created.
  • Incidentally, there is now a consensus on the idea that the Palace cannot stand forever outside this exercise: various parties have already made it clear that an (in) formator, appointed by the king, once there is a clear coalition, it would still be desirable. But that is before June, once Wilmès’ powers of attorney expire.

What has changed at Open Vld? A new core group takes the lead, or is it not entirely?

  • The election at Open Vld is still buzzing. A few hard conclusions urge themselves.
  • To begin with, the good news for the incoming chairman: Egbert Lachaert did win with a landslide. He immediately got 61.03 percent behind him, which was even more than they had hoped, and beyond what most observers expected.
  • Internally they thought they were at Lachaert certainly of over 45 percentclose to half. But Bart Tommelein (Open Vld) was rated higher, at least 35 percent, and Els Ampe (Open Vld) was the unpredictable factor. Lachaert himself was certainly not outwardly clear in the first round, internally that hope was alive.
  • The candidate of the establishment, Tommelein, who had received support from almost all the top, ends up at less than 30 percent. With 29.74 percent, the mayor of Ostend can only be disappointed: it is a bitter defeat.
  • The core group around Lachaert triumphs. In particular also Alexander De Croo (Open Vld), who wins an even bigger victory for the party bureau, and 75 percent of the members behind them. A bigger mandate is almost impossible. In addition, he will also be vice-chairman shortly.
  • Furthermore, scores also Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld) more than decent, with nearly 7,000 votes to the party bureau. He will more than likely become the new group leader in the House.
  • Until there is the good news for Lachaert. Because the rest of the party top, who were almost all behind Tommelein, is neatly back in the party office. Lachaert’s attempt to get innovative candidates therein ended with no success. If you count for a moment, you will see that hardly a handful of people from the current party agency Lachaert supported: a serious “double” election result.
  • Striking: Tommelein is no longer in the party office. He didn’t choose to be a candidate for that agency, he didn’t want to come and play Lachaert’s mother-in-law if he lost. At least that was the mutual agreement. Because immediately he found it necessary to declare yesterday “that he hoped that Open Vld would not become a right-wing partyWith which he fueled a conflict between the left-liberal and right-liberal wing. It also raised the question with a leading player “whether Open Vld was not a right-wing party until yesterday?”. Anyway: the man from Ostend refused to leave the stage in silence.
  • More noticeable: Maggie De Block (Open Vld), who supported Tommelein, still gets almost 8,000 votes. And Bart Somers (Open Vld), after Tommelein’s departure more than ever the face of the other wing at Open Vld, also scores 7,081 votes. So it’s a sign that they too enjoy broad support, and that a landslide for Lachaert this does not mean that the other camp has been wiped out.
  • In fact, the purple-green wing, or actually the whole “old” establishment, is back in the party office. “Nobody from the ‘team Egbert’ has been elected from all over the agency, except De Croo and Van Quickenborne. He will therefore have to take serious account with what the whole party thinks ”, according to a prominent member of that bureau.
  • The only “newcomer”: Els Ampe, who gets 3,440 votes for the party agency. But it remains to be seen whether she will give substantive support to Lachaert. A a scenario in which she drifts further away from the party cannot be ruled out: Yesterday she went back to work with a video rant on social media, a routine that she built up in the campaign.

The essence: Lachaert inherits a divided party, with a device that distrusts him.

  • How many people can stay on Melsensstraat 34, M34 in Open Vld jargon? That question has surfaced a few times when you talk to Open Vlds in the corridors: after 7 years of chairmanship, the party apparatus was put entirely by Rutten. And he was not immediately waiting to pass the torch to Lachaert.
  • A party chairman can hardly be successful with a team of people around him that he cannot trust. But at the same time, Lachaert does not immediately want to go to war with everyone: it is therefore a difficult decision.
  • Apart from Tommelein’s statement, it was very quiet yesterday with reactions. Lachaert deliberately held a non-provocative speech, and mainly wanted to “reconcile” after the hard campaign. That seemed to work until now.
  • But whether all jars will remain covered is an open question. Now it must become clear whether the threat of some people to leave the party was just bluff poker, or part of possibly a larger story that could redraw the political landscape.

Polls, Polls, Polls: A few interesting trends.

  • A large electoral study, one year after the elections, by VRT, De Standaard and the University of Antwerp, yields the classic electoral intentions. They say nothing new, but confirm the trends:
    • Vlaams Belang is the largest in Flanders and scores 24.5 percent.
    • The N-VA sinks and stranded at 20.3 percent. This way she will remain a “big party”.
    • Striking incidentally, the two “V-parties” together do not reach 50 percent.
    • The rest is a bunch of little ones. CD&V is at 11.9 percent, Open Vld at 11.6 percent. The government does not cash in on anything, on the contrary.
    • Green with 11.1 percent and sp.a with 11 percent farmers ahead, just like PVDA, with 8.2 percent. “Left” comes together at just over 30 percent, slightly above its historical joint figure.
  • The research is particularly compelling because it is different, according to Professor Stefaan Walgrave “More correct”, way is going to gauge the leaders. No more traditional fixed lists, from which one has to choose: instead the question is asked to give one name from the bare head, in answer to “by which politician you feel best represented at the moment”.
  • Those “lists,” or “pop-pops,” seem banal to the outsider, but count incredibly in the environment of the Wetstraat. After all, the internal pecking order is determined in part, who has “weight” and who does not within his own party. Politicians who were sick for days, or just walked on clouds, because of their results in such lists, were not uncommon in recent years.
  • So tinkering with the methodology of the survey has an enormous impact. For example, leaders are now “against” each other: you can no longer mention multiple names, from the same party. To begin with, it is shown that no less than 45 percent “do not feel represented” and the anti-politics is big.
  • In addition, note the following:
    • Bart De Wever is the numero uno, with 20 percent of which also a lot of voters who are not part of his party. Jan Jambon is the number two of N-VA, but is only in sixth place. Theo Francken (N-VA) and Ben Weyts (N-VA) also appear in the top, at number 9 and 11.
    • Vlaams Belang has Tom Van Grieken really a leader, number two in the list. He almost only addresses Vlaams Belang voters. There is hardly any mention of Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang).
    • Also special: Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) is third. Furthermore, only Maggie De Block, with an eighth place, is in the top and Bart Tommelein takes a 20th place. The Croo is therefore the undisputed number one, Egbert Lachaert is not in the list.
    • Six months ago, Conner Rousseau was a noble stranger, the sp.a chairman claims fourth place. No one else from sp.a is on the list. Two impressive findings.
    • Peter Mertens (PVDA / PTB) is actually in fifth place, with a dog-loyal PVDA audience that he redeems. Raoul Hedebouw (PVDA / PTB) is also included in the list.
    • Striking scores for CD&V, as we already mentioned. Surprisingly, Koen Geens (CD&V) is number one of the Christian Democrats, in place 7. Hilde Crevits (CD&V) has fallen back to place ten. Striking: just like Lachaert, here also chairman Joachim Coens (CD&V) is not at all in the list.
    • Finally, green has one leaders problemJudging from this list: Meyrem Almaci and Kristof Calvo (Groen) are in 14th and 15th place in the list.

No redeeming news: Clarity about the catering industry will only be apparent within ten days.

  • Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has set a date for the next big one pow-wow about the exit from the lockdown. It comes with a National Security Council on Wednesday, June 3.
  • Then the politicians and experts hope to finally be able to give a path to the catering industry. They complain that they have no clarity whatsoever, or hope, for a reopening. But we have to wait ten days longer. More than likely, the light will go green on June 3, if all trends continue, then reopen on Monday, June 8.
  • That approach stands yet in stark contrast to neighboring countries, and actually the rest of Europe, where the cafes and restaurants are already open, partly and under strict conditions. Or where at least data has already been announced about that reopening, all at the beginning of June.
  • The cultural sector will also be discussed further, as will sports competitions and events. And also for mass and other ceremonies will then be announced. Federal minister Koen Geens (CD&V) and Flemish minister Bart Somers (Open Vld) are working together on the latter theme to “restart the worship services in phases.” Churches and mosques are not closed, but mass is not celebrated.
  • Finally, not unimportant, too Viewed how social contacts can be further relaxed. Now everyone is officially still bound by a “bubble of four”, although the question is to what extent that is observed in practice.
  • The date of the Security Council delivers immediately some tension with the Flemish government. There Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA), with the unions and umbrella organizations, worked out a whole proposal to reopen much more on 2 June. And the GEES, the experts, also gave the green light. But by meeting only on June 3, the federal government is blocking those plans. The question is whether she can keep that up.
8AM Wetstraat Insider


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