Royal negotiator Egbert Lachaert (Open Vld) starts his assignment with agreements with the socialists, the N-VA and also CD&V and CDH: the purple-yellow bubble is thus “given priority”. But it is nothing more than Purple-Yellow’s funeral: what was supposed to be a “discreet” mission is full of leaks. And they all point in the same direction: purple-green is being prepared. In addition, the liberals do not want to talk to the greens in the traditional way: “A tax reduction of 5 billion is not possible.”
In the news: Today Lachaert sees chairmen for the first time.
The details: That does not exactly happen in serene circumstances.
- “A particularly annoying leak in Het Laatste Nieuws“, They admit at the top of Open Vld. After all, the message appeared yesterday that the choice had already been made among the Flemish liberals. In a meeting on Monday, the party leadership would have decided to go for purple-green, or Vivaldi.
- Officially, the party strongly denies this message: the mantra of “spinning” has been sounding for days on Melsensstraat, pointing fiercely in the direction of N-VA. “Our party is broad enough and is structured in such a way that if you call long enough, there is always someone who can confirm such a thing“, So they indicate at the top.
- But at the same time you can belong to the Flemish liberals in various places that the knob has indeed been turned. “Purple-yellow, that’s dead and buried.”
- Because apart from the leakage of an internal consultation Monday, there was of course the contact between Lachaert and Paul Magnette (PS), that same day. Even before the Open Vld chairman accepted his royal assignment, he already had extensive consultations with the PS chairman. It can now be heard among the liberals “that it was the PS boss who was purple-yellow there then described as “no longer livable”“, Whereby the ball is placed in the PS’s court.
- Earlier this week, the Socialists said another story: there it was heard that during that conversation Lachaert clearly confirmed the internal choice to go for purple-green to Magnette. And that the exercise to do purple-yellow first would be “for the gallery”.
- It seem the two sides of the same coin. The blue and red version do not contradict each other, and the essence is the same: purple-yellow is stone-dead.
- For Lachaert it must be a confirmation of what he has been feeling like this for days: that “framing”, or “Daily dredge”, as he called it, causes much to be destroyed in the relationships between top politicians in the Wetstraat. That is why he also announced “discretion” in his assignment.
And now? A meeting with the N-VA chairman cannot possibly yield anything.
- So on Melsensstraat one can shout “framing” as much as one wants, but the damage is real. Both the internal discussions, which indicate that the Open Vld top opts for purple-green, and especially the consultation with Magnette leaked out.
- In the meantime, Lachaert has started his activities, with symbolic a series of meetings with the presidents of the socialists and N-VA: the old purple-yellow ash.
- Contact with the PS and sp.a cannot be anything other than constructive: Lachaert will soon need Magnette and Conner Rousseau (sp.a) badly anyway. Without socialists there is nothing: they are the largest family and both in purple-yellow, from which they come, and in purple-green, they will soon be highly necessary.
- The socialists are waiting, are careful. In the Wetstraat is watched with some surprise, to how fast the PS is apparently taking the turn towards purple-green. “The analysis that a thorough reform must be carried out, that the Belgian construction as it stands today, does not work, does it no longer apply?” Is also the question among the Christian Democrats.
- Whether the PS has definitely opted for purple-green is an open question. But no one on Keizerslaan is hiding that it is the “dream coalition”. Only, they lay the bar meanwhile is nice and tight and high. Le Soir, the newspaper that leans close to the PS, reads very seriously that the PS will not be satisfied with less than it got in the negotiations with N-VA, when it comes to the social agenda. That does not immediately make it more pleasant for Lachaert.
- Moreover, for the liberals it would be very useful if the socialists, and not themselves, will soon declare the purple-yellow scenario dead out loud. Then the image can be turned around that it was the Flemish liberals themselves who decided internally on Monday to go for purple-green. But whether Lachaert ‘grants’ that skill is very much the question.
- A meeting with N-VA chairman Bart De Wever is then also on the agenda. He gets what he asked Lachaert for for weeks: a private conversation. The Open Vld chairman refused this question for days during the period that De Wever was a preformateur, much to the frustration of the N-VA boss. On the other hand, Lachaert felt “not treated with due respect” all this time, and he was irritated by the battery of swear words that the liberals had to undergo.
- At the last meeting between the liberals and the two preformers, where Lachaert was flanked by Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR), with whom he is “one and indivisible” politically, they also came up.
- Now the roles have been reversed: Lachaert has an assignment, De Wever comes as “ordinary mortal”. The Open Vld chairman would like to let it be known that he has not made a choice yet. But after everything that appeared in the press about the internal Open Vld meeting and the consultation with Magnette, it threatens to be a very short meeting between the two.
The big picture: A crossroads in the party course of both Open Vld and N-VA.
For Open Vld:
- On the other hand, the consequences are very great, of that meeting between Lachaert and De Wever that is announced. It may be surprising that it works like this: Lachaert and the N-VA chairman were in contact for months, which went very well this year. Lachaert, as the then Open Vld party leader, led the resistance against purple-green within his party, against almost the entire party top.
- Especially when he became candidate for president, the game was played very hard. So were the elections were also suddenly postponed, which threatened to take away momentum for Lachaert. “The level of a banana republic”, they then argued in camp Lachaert.
- But in the meantime a lot has changed: Lachaert has, unsurprisingly, all his party leaders behind him. “It is striking how large the consensus is around Egbert, how everyone supports the chairman. There is no longer any question of internal conflict ”, indicates a blue source.
- Lachaert also presented himself at the time as someone who would guarantee a “dark blue course”: “pure blue“It was called in his campaign slogan, in which he got the more traditional wing of his party behind him, and achieved a big election victory.
- When the purple-green direction is started later, is inevitably the more progressive, urban wing of the party will be the big winner: there has been the conviction there for much longer that liberalism in Flanders can only continue in this way, with a “progressive project”, opposing the “dark” Flemish-conservative N-VA.
- Within the party there is a bit of a mess about that. Party headquarters did receive some angry reactions from the base, from members who expected something different from Lachaert. But now the Purple & Yellow’s two outspoken defenders, Lachaert and Van Quickenborne, are firmly encapsulated in the party leadership, there are no longer leaders of the “dark blue” wing. The purple-green course, in combination with a clear “Belgian” choice for an alliance with the MR, pushes Open Vld away from the right flank.
- One more if possible more fundamental self-questioning will soon be necessary at the N-VA. Because in recent years, despite its separatist and radical foundations, that party has opted for a ‘participatory’ course, for policy making.
- But the conclusion that it has become completely impossible to make federal agreements, let alone force a state reform, makes that the ‘legalistic’ strategy of De Wever is seriously compromised.
- That it also failed in this way with Lachaert, on whom they had hoped at the N-VA anyway, leaves a deep bitterness. One that may, if purple-green is introduced later, also have major consequences for the Flemish government.
- It is clear that N-VA does not intend to pretend that the nose is bleeding, and then just go on to reign with Open Vld for four years. There, too, the question will have to be asked whether the largest party in Flanders can bake sweet buns even longer with other in one regime and one structure what they actually want to get rid of.
- But this is how the participatory course of the largest Flemish national party until further notice is in danger of being reversed: a retreat that has major consequences for the long-term survival of the entire Belgian house. The convinced conservative in De Wever deeply regrets this turn of events: a revolutionary scenario, in which Vlaams Belang and N-VA huddle close together and together achieve a majority in one part of the country, is more an ideal image of the ‘offensive’ wing of the party, personified by, say, a Theo Francken (N-VA), than once was and still is the dream of the Antwerp mayor.
What now? Purple-green has to contend with misty prospects.
- The liberals already realize that a negotiation that will soon arise with the greens and socialists not evident is going to be.
- “We are not going to be allowed to approach this in a traditional way, as we normally would: reducing the burden for us, social measures for them. We are in a huge crisis, we know that now cutting another five billion charges will not work“You can hear from the Open Vld summit.
- There circulates the idea of a “non-classical” negotiation, in which, in addition to the current battle of symbols (will the nuclear power plants remain open or not, for example), their own new agenda is being written.
- One theme that arises spontaneously, with that “progressive front-building”: the ethical reforms. A few things were already thought out about this in November last year. It also explains why liberals and greens have always been so staunchly committed to abortion reform: it remains a lubricant that would come in handy with purple-green.
- One batch that is received today can therefore still be done in the coming weeks play a key role: CD&V. Because with a purple-green-plus coalition (a Vivaldi, as it is called in the jargon) the Christian Democrats do make a lot more of a ‘center’ story possible, but at the same time purple-green without CD&V can present themselves as ‘younger’ and present ‘less dusty’.
- “We are going not again with those old figureheads of CD&V, those people who have been and will continue to be ministers for years now continue? That would be deadly ”, according to a prominent source.
- The question is how CD&V itself is in it: they remain very careful there for the time being. But the disbelief, about the rapidly evaporating of the purple-yellow bubble, of the plans that PS and N-VA have made together, remains great: the Christian Democratic analysis has always been that for the sustainable survival of the country, both large parties had to take a bath. That analysis does not change overnight.
And yet: The Sixteen keeps talking about the tongues.
- One observation: from Open Vld itself, prominent players broach the discussion about the prime minister, including among socialist interlocutors. It’s clear that “The Sixteen” is in play.
- In addition, the name of Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) continues to circulate, even though various sources among the liberals clearly contradict this: “That is really not the case, the only thing we are negotiating about is the content. And a prime minister in Belgium does not become prime minister: that is not mail that you hand out in advance, but something that arises spontaneously in the negotiations, once there is trust. Starting to stoke it now has only one goal: to sow unrest. ”
- But at the same time, everyone, also within the purple-green family members, is watching anxious to the MR of Bouchez. After all, they calmly lean back: the defaultscenario, where if everything fails, there is still Sophie Wilmès (MR) as prime minister, is just as true now as it was a few weeks ago.
- In the French-speaking press you can read that Lachaert now “A few weeks can kill time”, in order to be able to see the real end game in September: who will get the current prime minister and her MR away from power?
- A purple-green deal thus also announces itself as a complex: the PS wants to get a lot, and sets the bar high. The greens are going to sell their skins dearly, and the MR does not need a government at all costs. Not easy days for Lachaert.
To follow: The Security Council announces itself as more of the same.
- An interesting debate is taking place: in French-speaking Belgium, people are increasingly revolting against the bubble, as was also stated here yesterday. And there, finally, also other doctors have the floor, that one express dissonant opinion.
- Today the impact in the Dutch-language press, including interviews in De Morgen and on Radio 1, from the same critics: Yves Coppieters, professor of epidemiology and public health at the ULB, and Jean-Luc Gala, head of the University Hospital Saint-Luc.
- Their criticism, in a nutshell: there is no second wave at all, based on hospital admissions and number of deaths. There is scare mongering, and draconian measures that make people socially crippled, like the bubbles, which are completely unnecessary.
- But whether that can convince the Security Council today? The question is: they mainly seem to plan that to continue on the chosen path.
- In the meantime, the figures are topping further in terms of the number of infections. They now go to an average of 535 per day.
In the margin: Some more “political” corona cackle.
- Yesterday a striking response from the MR from politicians. It was still busy two weeks ago, to collectively brand the figures in Antwerp, and demand “strict local measures”.
- Today the virologists are head of Jut. Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR), the Prime Minister of the French Community, spoke of a “cacophony of communication”From the experts“ who should stop now ”.
- But, of course, Jeholet wouldn’t operate without MR boss Bouchez’s approval. That collided itself on Twitter with none other than Marc Van Ranst.
- After all, he had already publicly stated yesterday that it was not appropriate to enlarge the bubbles (“It’s too early! It’s too early!”). Bouchez rebuked him, stated that it was up to the Security Council to decide and sneered at Van Ranst: “When one advises, one advises. Then one does not substitute oneself. ”