Saturday, 18 September 2010

Still the same

(The Feast of Wallony in Namur: fine weather and no enflaming statements)

Negotiations for a new Belgian government are still not making progress. The only positive news is that after a day of acrimonious accusations on Thursday, a semblance of calm between the two main actors seems to have returned.

The beginning of autumn next Tuesday will also be day 100 since the elections of June the 13th. And on Friday the 24th it will be a month since the last progress in the negotiations between the NVA of Bart De Wever and the PS of Elio di Rupo was made.

The two mediators, Andre Flahaut and Danny Pieters, went to King Albert on Friday evening to report on their discussions with the seven party leaders of the socialists, the Christian democrats, the greens and the Flemish nationalists. In fact they had very few to announce. It seems to have taken ten days since their nomination only to bring the main characters – di Rupo and De Wever – back around the same table.

Once this happened, on Wednesday the 15th, both party leaders communicated that they agreed on a common approach about the negotiations. But both had once again a different version about what was agreed.

This led some spokesmen of the PS on Thursday afternoon to communicate to the media that they were ‘fed up’ with the NVA. Whereupon the party of De Wever issued a press statement in which it asked when the PS would finally prove that it was no longer defending ‘pocket money federalism’;

The two mediators asked everybody on Friday morning to ‘restore discretion’. It helped. On Saturday at the traditional Walloon Feast in Namur – a kind of national day of that region – no provocative statements were heard. And common working groups of the two parties about specific issues of institutional reform continue their work.

Di Rupo and De Wever seem to distrust each other wholeheartedly, or may play poker to see who has the strongest nerves. Both are progressing in opinion polls – that are, like the elections itself split up between the regions - because of their seemingly uncompromising attitude. The beginning of the new week could bring a definite return to point zero. Or, unexpectedly, still a small breakthrough?


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