Saturday, 16 October 2010

The first written words, after four months

After a short round of consultations this week, Bart De Wever will tomorrow deliver a concrete set of proposals about institutional reform to the seven parties that have been negotiating for a new Belgian government since June. The seven will have to react on Monday noon at the latest.

De Wever, the leader of the Flemish nationalist party, was appointed by King Albert on Friday the 8th with a “clarification mission” for the stalled negotiations. The following weekend saw some acrimonious shouting between the leaders of the seven parties, the most vociferous being Elio di Rupo, the leader of the French-speaking socialist. He had to give way for the prime role on the scenery to De Wever. Then, from Tuesday to Thursday, De Wever saw each of the party leaders apart.

Early on Friday the news broke that the royal negotiator had tried to put the proposals that had been discussed the last few months on paper, and to clarify these. Elio di Rupo, who had been attempting to form the government from July to September, had never put any proposal on paper, although he seemed to have advanced considerably.

On Friday noon De Wever issued a statement in which he announced that he would work out a proposal on institutional reform, on paper. That proposal would be submitted Sunday morning to the seven parties around the table, who would have to answer at the latest on Monday at noon. Monday afternoon, De Wever has to report to King Albert, as had been agreed at the beginning of his ten-day mission.

The nationalist leader warned that ‘my proposal will be a compromise, but one with clear choices’. He elaborated a lot on that, which led him also to the cryptic phrase that he ‘wants a social security for the poor, not of the poor’.

The royal negotiator said he wanted to get rid with the practices of the past ‘where hugely complicated constructions were agreed that after a while only worsened the problems’. Each party would find painful concessions in the proposal, ‘including my own one’.

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