A liberal list of demands that seems impossible and above all provocative, and a few newspaper interviews later, does not seem to be much left over from the orders of Bart De Wever (N-VA) and Paul Magnette (PS). The liberals, who have been systematically boxing for 600 days above their weight in ministerial posts, make the government negotiations, led by PS and N-VA as the largest parties, in the middle of a second corona wave particularly difficult. The MR, which would no longer have a place in a new federal government, is the big winner today.
In the news: Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) triumphs: chances are high that even an attempt by the two largest parties will fail and his party will retain the premiership plus six ministers for the time being.
The details: Bart De Wever (N-VA) and Paul Magnette (PS) have to go to the king empty-handed.
- Soon at 2.30 pm, King Filip will receive the presidents of N-VA and PS, by far the two largest parties in the country. But the message can only be dark: the two can not to report a breakthrough, or to announce that a federal government appears to be in sight.
- After all, what everyone has been predicting for weeks is happening in Wetstraat: the liberal parties, and in particular the MR, have nothing to gain from a breakthrough, or a new government. And so Georges-Louis Bouchez, the MR chairman, tries to prevent a full-fledged team from replacing the gifted minority team of Wilmès II. Or certainly no government in which his party has no place. That seems to work.
- So it seems very likely that, despite the fact that De Wever and Magnette took an enormous political risk with their N-VA and PS, and sought rapprochement to form a government, elections will inevitably come in the autumn. Not exactly a pleasant message, when a second corona wave engulfs the country, and the worst economic crisis since the measurements.
- But by negotiate through the papers, and in particular to put a joint note on the table, which both N-VA and PS dismiss as ‘hallucinatory’, Bouchez, with the support of Egbert Lachaert and the Open Vld summit, pushes the assignment from De Wever and Magnette to the abyss.
- That the negotiation teams of Open Vld and MR would even merge, something Bouchez has announced in Le Soir, says it all: an unseen move in Belgian politics, a French-speaking and Flemish party that will therefore negotiate as one entity, apart from their own supporters and their own accents.
- The ultimate triumph for the French-speaking Liberal, who was threatened to be driven off and headlong in opposition: Open Vld not only throws a lifeline at him, they just throw themselves into the water, as a living lifebuoy.
Zoomed in: What do the liberals then put on the table?
- The note, which was sent yesterday by Open Vld and MR, puts all previous negotiations back to zeroas if months and months of talking had not preceded this moment in government formation.
- The whole reads like one blue dialing program. Georges-Louis Bouchez gives details in Le Soir, publicly. A way of negotiating that does not help the two royal commissioners an inch, on the contrary.
- The liberals propose an investment plan “of 30 billion euros”. That sum would be separate from the EU funds, which focus on certain sectors such as health, urbanization or artificial intelligence and the development of infrastructure such as high-speed networks. They want to “do not destroy the 300,000 jobs that the Michel government created“. In addition, there are also tax discounts for companies that keep jobs.
- At the same time, there must be “fiscal discipline” for the liberals. The first two years may celebrate the reins, but from 2022 there must be a path to equilibrium, which will be reached by 2030. This immediately means that structural expenditure in social security, for pensions, benefits or salaries, can only increase if “financing is insured“.
- Incidentally, about that social security: the liberals want faster degressivity of unemployment benefits. If you do not have a job, you will feel his or her benefits drop more quickly.
- At the same time, new tax pressure may not arise: “There is allowed no new tax will comeif we don’t do something else at the same time, ”says Bouchez. They do want to continue the tax shift: less taxes on work. At the same time, they reject any form of wealth tax that could affect savers or legacies.
- Bouchez speaks of a “Belgium 2.0, modernized” about the state reform. But that is not necessary now. “There is going to be a state reform at one time or another, but we have always said that this should not happen quickly, with symbolic elements. We need to have a real discussion to make Belgium more efficient, with regionalisations, but also things that go federal again, ”says Bouchez.
- At the same time also in the text premiums to “encourage multilingualism”: the federal level will therefore interfere with language policy.
- On the ethical issues there would be among the government partners “Freedom of voting” in other words, it should be possible to have an alternating majority in the House to regulate an abortion relaxation.
The big picture: This document falls on a cold stone.
- “I think we have one now have a unique opportunity to form a government, which has a support base in the north and south of the country. There is a willingness between the PS and the N-VA, and we as liberals are also ready to start government negotiations. As soon as possible ”, says Lachaert, who gave an interview to De Tijd himself.
- That message, combined with the note that he and Bouchez passed on to the preformateurs, put bad blood. Just yesterday, the news that the Liberals were going to the newspapers to get their message out came a shock in confidence: “You don’t negotiate that way, then you torpedo“Said a fellow chairman.
- In addition, a number of players wonder whether Lachaert means it when he claims to “see a unique opportunity”. “If this is meant to make the whole thing work, it is a certificate of political incompetenceIs the comment of a fellow chairman.
- It is hard for the N-VA: she ventured very far, and gave much socio-economic, in order to make a deal with the PS. They are now publicly reprimanded by Open Vld, “which does stand up for fewer taxes”. The same applies to the PS, but at Community level: they are completely in the wind, with the MR on their neck as those who “do defend Belgium”.
- Moreover, there is the past: pastors of Magnette and De Wever have been working on solutions for months. Today’s piece of work of the duo, an expensive fought compromise, in which both N-VA and PS are particularly vulnerable, is an extension of constructions in which Didier Reynders (MR) and Johan Vande Lanotte (sp.a), but Koen Koens (CD&V) or even Bouchez and Joachim Coens (CD&V) also continued to work. And there was still very recently their own Arizona note, which Lachaert and Bouchez themselves proposed.
- “What they put on the table now is completely wipe all tables. It is manifestly in contradiction to their own Arizona proposals. What the PS-N-VA note says is 300 million of those proposals, their own proposals at the time about labor market policy have been adopted, as well as almost everything about health care, and they are now going to blow it up because they suddenly become much more radical ? ”Commented one person concerned.
- Quick calculations among the bastards of the negotiating parties show that the plans of the liberals, who do not want new taxes, who do want a remedy policy, and a balanced budget in the long term, contain a difference of about 35 billion euros between what she dreams of and what she can do. “That’s a year, isn’t it,” explains a negotiator. The others fear that it is not a proposal, but an election program.
- Moreover, there are manifest ones middle fingers in to the other:
- Again the abortion issue Throwing it on and just “leaving it open” in the House is very hard for CD&V and CDH.
- The passage about “stimulating multilingualism”, suddenly also a task of the federal level now apparently, even contains a language error in Dutch: that should be an “effort for (sic) all Belgians”, they write. “Can we note that one of the people who puts this down doesn’t even speak Dutch?”
- The nuclear power plants simply remain open: a very difficult symbolic point for the greens, but also for socialists.
- “It is all so ridiculous that it is almost laughable, that note. You read that and you don’t believe your eyes. But at the same time we are laughed at in our face ”, is the harsh criticism. In other words, there is no question of Lachaert’s “green light” to start negotiations.
And now? Any form of government must go through an exciting moment. But the question is how this can still work out.
- The plan to form a coalition with the Flemish government on the Flemish side, plus sp.a, and on the French-speaking side the PS and CDH, a coalition with 81 seats, can be put in the trash in no time: the Open Vld definitely wants the MR there. “They will have to choose, we will not move anymore,” the Liberals say.
- That attitude is somewhat surprising: before that Lachaert had given signals that he “with the big boysWould like to make an agreement.
- Open Vld continues to indicate that it is not the intention to make an agreement impossible. “The bill can be negotiated.” But at the same time it should be noted “that they will not betray the MR by being bribed with a nice post for Alexander De Croo (Open Vld)“:” Things have changed on the liberal front. “
- Including rumors that there would be only 12 ministers in the future squad, and Open Vld would drop back to one post, gives the Flemish liberals a particularly uncomfortable feeling: as if they are the fifth wheel on the car, and are deliberately asked as “junior partner”.
- Either way the note the Open Vld also firmly: it now says black on white, and made public by Bouchez, what the Flemish liberals all wanted. Then suddenly make an agreement with much less, that now seems impossible. Especially without the MR then.
- “In this way we sink further and further into the swamp. Politicians who come out sometimes know by now that there is very little understanding for what happens in the Wetstraat? But now let the matter fail again: where does that take us? ”, Says one person involved.
- However, the other option, with MR and Open Vld, sitting at the table, based on what they have put on the table, seems hardly conceivable. The anger about the liberal attitude is very great, preformator Magnette would already made clear in no uncertain terms what exactly he thinks of the note.
- “A difficult moment indeed,” one person involved summed it up euphemistically. The king can easily extend the assignment of both, but the question is what it yields: in the famous Bermuda Triangle, between N-VA, PS and MR, which keeps popping up again and again, it is the same result over and over again. The big nothing.
Meanwhile in the edge: Others are stirring in the margins of the negotiations.
- It is now a regular classic, PS faction leader Ahmed Laaouej are two of a day, to stoke something against his own party chairman / preformateur. A leak in La Libre was talking about community demands from the N-VA that would like to abolish the facility municipalities in the periphery around Brussels.
- Six municipalities around Brussels, where many French speakers live across the language border, still offer a few special administrative services also in French: it still remains so many years later a very sensitive issue.
- “The ambitions of the N-VA, as La Libre reported, that the facilities of facilities municipalities would like to suppress, is an intolerable provocation for the Brussels PS. As if, at such a time, the country needs a Community conflict, ”tweeted Laaouej.
- And just as predictable: Olivier Mangain (DéFI), the leader of the Fransdolle FDF for years, jumped on the cart: “When I find that some parties want to strengthen the territorial carcan around Brussels, which is so damaging, it is time to again to put the enlargement of the Brussels Region on the table. ”
The bitter reality: The economic numbers are really a nightmare.
- Quarter two is economically closed, and figures of what economies around the world have performed are seeping in. They are downright disastrous.
- Germany: a shrinkage of -10.1 percent, the biggest drop ever.
- Belgium: a dip with -12.2 percent, after a 3.5 percent drop in Q1. We are back economically where we were in 2009, a decade of growth has (temporarily) faded.
- France: -13.8 percent, also a record.
- USA: down -9.5 percent, an absolute low.
- China: an increase of 3.2 percent, after a dip in Q1. Thus, the Chinese are the only ones to move forward and get through the crisis that arose in Wuhan.
- The disastrous figures should in principle be reversed in Q3. But certainly because of a second wave of infections, and a very difficult return from the lockdowns, it threatens a much slower recovery than previously thought.
It goes on: The Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke (CD&V) remains under fire.
- Another striking passage by Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke (CD&V) in To the point: the competent Flemish minister came to visit again defend the faltering contact investigation.
- In addition, he was asked solid questions: “This is the train of slowness, that whole contact tracing process? ” “We obviously have no time to lose, the second wave has arrived,” said Beke, who was not always able to quickly defend himself.
- Certainly the message from the Agency for Care and Health, that no use is made of the local level, Beke fiercely contested. “No, no, that is not correct as far as cluster research is concerned, we need that local expertise there. It is not correct, I had a meeting yesterday. And I just called that agency to get feedback. ”
- According to Beke, people locally and with their agency “find each other in a number of areas“. He also announced that he, together with Bart Somers (Open Vld), Flemish minister for Internal Administration, wants to tell all mayors even more clearly where they can find support, via a script.
- Meanwhile, the opposition is annoyed and there are also very sharp newspaper comments, including The Latest News takes a fierce position. That is why the Flemish Parliament, which is in principle on vacation, calls Minister Beke next week Tuesday to the Welfare Committee, for no explanation about that contact tracing.
- It promises to be another critical moment. All opposition parties, Groen, sp.a and Vlaams Belang and PVDA, were in recent days very sharp about it limping, still, from contact tracing. Their patience is similar.
- Incidentally, the numbers of infections are increasing further: the number is now ticking off 671 people in one day. The number of hospital admissions is also rising to 18.7 people a day now, an increase of another 34 percent.