Monday, 3 September 2007

Greens to the rescue

The party bureau of the Walloon green party Ecolo showed its willingness today to negotiate a participation in the new government. It thus confirmed that the attempt to form a purely orange-blue government is gradually given up.

Scout Herman Van Rompuy had met Jean-Michel Javaux, (picture)the federal secretary of Ecolo (Greens don’t have party presidents), last Friday. Today – on Monday morning the party bureaus of all parties meet in Belgium - the party bureau of Ecolo apparently debated about what Van Rompuy and Javaux had discussed.

After the meeting Javaux said to journalists that ‘Ecolo does not exclude a participation in the government’. But he added that ‘we have a problem with the N-VA’. N-VA is the cartel partner of the Flemish christian democrats. Javaux did not explicitly say that he wanted the N-VA to stay out of the negotiations, but stressed that ‘without it there would be a better balance inside the coalition.’

He also pointed out that Ecolo would not participate without the Flemish greens (Groen), and without an elaborate social and ecological program for the new government. He revealed that, faced with these conditions, Van Rompuy Friday replied to him by saying: ‘you are not making my task easier.’

An orange-blue coalition of christian democrats and liberals would have 81 seats in the Lower House, five more than the simple majority. With the 8 seats of Ecolo and the four of Groen this would add up to 93. This is still short of a two third majority of 100 seats, needed for constitutional reform. But the Flemish socialists, with 14 seats, have indicated a willingless, on certain conditions, to approve constitutional reform from the banks of the opposition.

When the formation attempts of Yves Leterme collapsed on August the 24th, many commentators said this was becauce the French christian democrats (CDH) did not want to enter into a centre right government without being covered on their left flank. This would have been the main reason why their leader, Joëlle Milquet, took a hard line on the nationality-issues. Milquet denied this. CDH is in a coalition with the socialist PS in the regional government of Wallony.

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