Magnette (PS) uses refederalization of healthcare as a crowbar against N-VA, even if he does not want it himself

Suddenly, the PS chairman Paul Magnette wants to “re-federalize” healthcare with great enthusiasm. He speaks of “an extremely important political fact” that Open Vld, the greens and socialists want to do. A bit cynical, because it has been clear for a long time that the PS wants the opposite. But does Magnette shake the tree one more time to make Vivaldi? Everything points to it, because his dreamed recovery plan is also becoming very difficult, with N-VA and Open Vld in the government.

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In the news: Magnette conducts the forcing, but does not come up with the truth.

  • For a self-proclaimed negotiator who wants a solution, Magnette doesn’t exactly remain discreet. This morning he sat up again La Première at the RTBF. There he repeated that he “has always tried to find solutions”. “I led a mission in November, when we were not far away from an agreement at the time,” he recalled his purple-green period. Then it did not work in the nick of time, partly because Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld) led an uprising against purple-green from the parliamentary group.
  • But Magnette reopens the debates. He keeps arguing for that his recovery plan. “If we want to get out of this crisis and not fall into a recession, we have to give a strong and powerful response.”
  • He spoke very clearly about “extra investment for health care, and also the lowest wages that absolutely have to go up”: recurring measures, therefore, with a lasting effect on the cost of social security and public finances.
  • At the same time, he conducted the forcing against the N-VA. Because he was going to press on a point he knows very well that it is a “no pasaran“Is for the N-VA:” We give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But they need to understand that we are going to talk about the re-federalization of healthcare. The sp.a, the greens, the Open Vld are all in favor of that now, that is an extremely important factSaid Magnette.
  • With that he increasingly takes a somewhat bizarre attitude about that health care. Behind the scenes it has been clear for a long time the whole socialist family is not waiting for “re-federalizing” that matteron the contrary: the socialist pillars would be happy to take much more powers themselves, with the federal states. That opinion can be noted at PS and sp.a.
  • The frustration with Maggie De Block (Open Vld), the federal minister of Health, was so big in recent years that the French-speaking socialists had long since taken their decision: they wanted to do it themselves from now on.
  • So everything points to it a splash of political opportunism from Magnette, after the Open Vld opened the door: Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) was the first to plead for a strong “re-federalization”, and is now receiving approval.

The smaller, political picture: Still, Magnette still has some major hurdles to purple-green.

  • The MR is on a warpath. Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) does not in any way hold back from his coalition partner Ecolo, in the Walloon government. And he makes no secret that he wants a big coalition, with the N-VA in it.
  • Those MR attacks make the PS so nervous that yesterday on it party agency of the PS hard language was spoken, as La Libre knows. “If I get the mandate, I will expel the MR from the Walloon government,” Elio Di Rupo (PS) would have threatened, after a whole series of PS barons complained about Bouchez.
  • But it doesn’t get that far, Magnette said this morning: “There is no problem, with any of the party chairmen, we have discussions at our party bureau, but in which party not?” At the same time, in the corridors it has been admitted for some time that they get tired of Bouchez’s attitude more and more.
  • But the MR chairman is not sitting still either, on the contrary. Only yesterday he met Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld), the new chairman of the Flemish liberals. “An official state visit“, At the Open Vld, there was some laughter, with the fact that Bouchez received him with all due respect, and even issued a press release. The latter must above all demonstrate that the MR is taking steps independently of the socialist ‘initiative’.
  • “This contact allows us to confirm that again we want to move forward as one family, for the sake of the country, ”Bouchez said via that message. “They make the same socio-economic analysis, which makes it much easier for Bouchez,” the corridors said.
  • It is an open secret that pastor Gwendolyn Rutten (Open Vld) got along well with Magnette. And in the campaign for the presidency, Lachaert already put a lot more dark blue accents. But at the same time, in all his appearances as the new chairman, he is very careful and does not in any way speak about coalition formation. “He put the porridge in the mouth of the PS, to start dreaming of Vivaldi again ”, can be heard at the N-VA.
  • Incidentally, Joachim Coens (CD&V) also put his money into the bag in that regard, by remain very vague about which government he wants now. But there are the own party members who give “interpretation” to the party position.
  • On Sunday there was already Pieter De Crem (CD&V) who once again emphasized a necessary coalition between PS and N-VA, on Monday Koen Geens (CD&V) went up again To the point. “The chairman also said it: the The Flemish government and the federal must understand each other very well. That Flemish majority must join the federal table ”, said Geens.
  • He also lashed out at the PS. “I dare not believe that they will talk for two and a half hours, if it is not serious.” But he was also very skeptical about purple-yellow: “For a year now, reality, the law and practical objections have stood between dream and deed,” he almost quoted Willem Elsschot. That the quote is from the poem “Marriage”, but contrary to what the title suggests is not about coalition formation (the husband dreams of it smashing his wife’s skull, but it never does), will be an analogy that Geens must have noticed.
  • “Ah, the dynamics of a hyperactive Magnette and an irritated Bouchez, we know where that leads: nowhere, ”notes a participant in the conversations. There is little hope for the time being.

What about the negotiations then? The PS and sp.a are doing a second round.

  • The duo will complete its first series of talks this week with eight chairmen and then reports on the progress in a second round. They talk with this group for the time being:
    • Bart De Wever (N-VA), who will be on shortly second session with the duo.
    • Joachim Coens (CD&V), who also regularly calls Magnette, the two hear each other about twice a week.
    • Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) who remains struggle with the “self-proclaimed initiative” from the duo.
    • Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld), who is new, and had his first appointment this week, but immediately full to work must in this mating dance.
    • Jean-Marc Nollet (Ecolo), always standing very good relationship with Magnette.
    • Meyrem Almaci (Green), who does not have the same connection with Conner Rousseau (sp.a), but still does hopes for a red-green axis.
    • Maxime Prévot (cdH), who always has five seats a final piece can be in a purple-green puzzle.
    • Francois De Smet (DéFI), the one with two seats hardly counts.
  • From the first series of contacts that PS chairman Paul Magnette and sp.a chairman Conner Rousseau had, turns out to be one constant: the Socialists, and Magnette in particular, are absolutely serious about presenting a particularly large and impressive recovery plan. That plan is the common thread for a new government: a gigantic project around which the new team can take shape.

The big picture: Can an agreement be reached on a ‘major recovery plan’?

  • Magnette dreams of a cost 30 to 50 billion eurosso a massive effort. But a long recession will cost much more, the reasoning goes: with a giant injection, you get multiplier effects on the economy. In this way, the state “earns” its investment, as it were, and the extra debts incurred will disappear more quickly.
  • Incidentally, Magnette herself referred to a number of economists, including Gert Peersman from Ghent University, who argue in favor of such a fierce plan. And the PS chairman also points to other European countries, which are already working on such recovery plans. But whether Belgium already does significantly less than neighboring countries, as the PS claims?
  • Peter Van Rompuy (CD&V) countered that, and screens with an EU report: “Magnette’s assertion that our country spends only 0.7 percent of GDP in the fight against corona is incorrect. According to the EU, it is three times more, namely 2.3 percent. With that Belgium is in line with the rest of the EU. So take additional investments in a targeted manner and not vote head over heels. ”
  • The fact is: the Belgian economy does not stand alone, but is completely interwoven in Europe. Anyone who takes major “Belgian” measures therefore risks “losing” a large part of that effort to neighboring countries. Other way around: a German recovery plan may in the long run have more impact on the Belgian economy than own plans and own financial firepower.
  • The question is whether Magnette will propose his own around the billion dollar relance presents in a “note” whether it will remain with more cautious conversations for the time being. There have been rumors for days that such an “informer’s note” is coming. In fact, some are already looking forward to it: certainly Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) is ready with a flamethrower to burn off such a plan. But others are less eager to solve those plans in concrete terms: this makes you much more vulnerable.

What you need to know about such a recovery plan: It is just a very ideological choice.

  • One fundamental comment about plans for recovery comes from Ghent professor Peersman himself, who made a comment on Magnette’s plans this week in De Tijd. Are you OK one-off government expenditure, or are it recurring? Because the latter will not help to launch a relance, says Peersman.
  • Peersman makes it very concrete: “Budget deficits due to early retirement pensions, health care spending or VAT reductions lead to a permanent increase in government debt, and must sooner or later be financed with savings or additional taxes. ”
  • Pure social measures, which extend social security or tackle poverty, are therefore not really useful for reviving the economy. And leave that just what Magnette puts on the table.
  • And also VAT reductionsPeersman thinks it is nonsense, as is currently on the table for the catering industry: in France, VAT was reduced by 14 percent in 2008 in restaurants, “the effect on employment turned out to be zero”.
  • The most important thing to look at: the “public investments”, for example in infrastructure works, mobility, employee training, scientific research and innovation. Anything that increases the productivity of employees and companies is good for a quick recovery of that economy while at the same time recovering your debts.
  • This also immediately pinches the shoe: a pack of the above policy areas, such as education and infrastructure, is in place at the level of the federal states. So they will have to be an integral part, even the engine, of a recovery plan.
  • Only the labor market and pensions, which need to be further reformed and where Peersman deems “structural interventions on the supply side” necessary (in other words: encouraging people to work more), are federal. But how can PS ever agree on the one hand and N-VA or Open Vld and even CD&V on the other hand?
  • In any case, the skepticism about this is very great. The recipes that Paul Magnette will present are already big questions. It doom of the great “left” recovery plan of François Mitterrand in 1981 turns up:
    • After his victory in May 1981, the new French president promised biggest plans.
    • They would create growth and reduce unemployment through large investments. In its place inflation and a currency crisis: Social Security investments had only made a pit.
    • It turned into four years of slow growth and unemployment rose from 7 percent in 1981 to 10 percent in 1985. Ultimately, in 1983, Mitterrand could not help but tougher, even more market-driven reform then push his right-wing predecessor Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

More of the same: The Flemish government continues to struggle with the federal on Education.

  • The whole crisis is shaking the Belgian construction to its foundations. Because the federal states are fully competent for Education, but the federal National Security Council floats like one kind of “super government” above the whole: what they decide on the lockdown is in principle binding.
  • But meanwhile the approach is in French-speaking Belgium is quite different from that in Flanderswhen it comes to education. In Brussels and Wallonia, French-speaking education does not immediately think about restarting, and there is also no question of pre-teaching, where people have to work at home.
  • At the same time, the Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA) likes to take the lead in underlining the distinction. Now there is yet another friction: the Flemish government, but also the domes, the unions and even the experts of the GEES, were already together to reopen schools on June 2 for all primary students.
  • However… the federal government of Sophie Wilmès (MR) does not want to convene a new National Security Council until 3 June. This is only possible on June 3, or even June 8. Weyts just doesn’t want to wait for that. “I’m not going to let the shoulders down, I think we should have ambition. Certainly if you know that the majority of schools want to open, that Flemish society wants students to want parents want it, ”he says on Radio 1 this morning.
  • “If you know you a week and a half of preparation, then you have to do it now, because otherwise you will soon have the debate whether it is still worth it this school year, ”says Weyts. This is not, for the first time, confronting the federal government. A whole plan had already been prepared for the sports clubs, and it always took until the federal level wanted to put a Security Council on the agenda.
  • “It always depends on the local infrastructure and choices will have to be made. It is the experts of the GEES who have given safety regulations there ”, Weyts explains. Meanwhile, the rules have also been relaxed again. Among other things, that each student should have four square meters would be adjusted. “This is a new opportunity that allows us to send more students to school and open more years. I want to take that opportunity with both hands. ”

Well noted: Vlaams Belang lets Dries Van Langenhove hit a rare mea culpa, but he immediately accuses the public prosecutor of “lies”.

  • The young MP Dries Van Langenhove was caught red-handed on Thursday in a lockdown barbecue in Ghent. He first made a fuss about the media calling it a “lockdown party.”even though his own party spokesman had called it that. It was “a BBQ, not a party,” according to Van Langenhove. But a little later, Vlaams Belang did something they rarely do: make excuses, and let one of their leaders go through the dust.
  • On a kind of construction site, in front of the cameras of VTM, Van Langenhove actually apologized to the nation. “I have an exemplary role and should have gone home when it turned out that there were more than four on that barbecue.” It is rare for Interest to make such “gestures”: they usually go into hedgehog positions when criticized, but this time it was clear that the party top couldn’t laugh at Van Langenhove’s breach of the rules.
  • Striking at the same time: the person concerned does not shy away from controversy. In defense of the story of the “lockdown party” he had systematically talked about “a BBQ with eight people”.
  • This is formally contradicted by the public prosecutor’s office in Ghent: there are eleven people present on the report. “Lies. We were eight and no man anymore, Says Van Langenhove about this in Het Laatste Nieuws. This is striking, because this is how the discussion continues naturally.

High voltage in the EU: The “economical four”, the “frugal four“The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark refuse to go along with the Franco-German agreement.

  • It must be a bit European Hamiltonian moment historical moment when the European Union, like the United States in 1790, decides to become one financial and economic union. At least that is what the pro-European politicians dream of.
  • Because just like the deal between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson back then, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron want chasing a revolution through the EU today, financially. At the time, it elevated the US central bank to a power house, and made the US an economic and political union, but if the EU soon also issues joint debt, the so-called eurobonds or corona bonds, it will de facto also decide to ‘together’ manage the debt.
  • About that, and about one huge aid package of EUR 500 billion in direct aid, not loans, French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel have made a deal.
  • Only there is now an uprising. Four countries, the “frugal fourOr “thrifty four” baptized, violently oppose: The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden. They do not want Europe to borrow 500 billion jointly, and then distribute that money to the countries affected by corona.
  • The European Commission is therefore facing a political dilemma. Because chairman Ursula von der Leyen must present her rescue plan this week, and that 500 billion would be an integral part of that. For a few days now, the four have been putting their heels in the sand, and they don’t want to know about that “common debt”.
  • The precedent is therefore very high: without this common debt, each country has to borrow individually from the market, which means that “weaker countries”, which do not have their public finances in order, have to pay more interest. But if that “stick” drops, what is the incentive for a country to keep the financial household in order, do the northern four wonder?
  • It leads to a deep conflict with the south of Europe, more severely affected by corona, where a deep recession is imminent. That gap is currently tearing the EU apart, and a deal between Merkel and Macron seemed to appease that. But de facto, the four refuse to accept that countries such as Italy and Spain make their move.
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