Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Breakthrough, or the end of the road?

The mission of royal scout Herman Van Rompuy is nearing its end. With a last round of poker he wants to force an ultimate breakthrough.

Van Rompuy spoke more to the public during one hour as a guest lecturer at the University of Ghent Tuesday (picture) morning than during previous 27 days of his mission. But he was careful to avoid any hint about the cards he keeps in his hands.

On Monday the royal scout had reported for the fourth time to king Albert. Afterwards the palace announced that Van Rompuy was going to bring in his final report later in the week.

Up to then it seemed that the scout had made almost no progress since he was sent out on August the 29th. But after the Flemish liberal party president Bart Somers unveiled some inside information about the discussions of the past weeks to his party bureau Monday morning, the press soon got wind of it.

So it was learned that Van Rompuy had put quite a sophisticated scheme of gradual constitutional reform on the table, as a midway to the Flemish demand for a comprehensive reform and the Walloon refusal to speak about it. Flemish party leaders had apparently also made some creative proposals to break the deadlock about the electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV).

Also on Monday Didier Reynders, the president of the Walloon liberals, showed some willingness to compromise, by proclaiming that he insisted on a referendum to fix the language border between the bilingual area of Brussels and the unilingual region of Flanders.

With so much indications of what might be a willingness to compromise – although Joelle Milquet of the Walloon Christian democrats again upheld a deafening silence in the choir of creative-thinking – Van Rompuy no longer hesitated. He let his spokesman confirm that he would bring the four party presidents of the orange blue coalition together again for the first time in more than a month, in an ultimate attempt to force a breakthrough.

This will probably happen Wednesday. In the best case the scout will a few days later give in his mission with good news for the king, and pass the file to his successor with the knots untied. In the worst case it will be up to king Albert to do some very creative thinking.

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