Sunday, 27 February 2011

Six months deadlock

Nothing substantial is to be announced about the still ongoing negotiations to form a new Belgian government. A new celebration might be upcoming these days: it is six months now since the last time that all parties of a potential coalition sat together around the same table.
It was at 3:30 in the morning of Sunday the 29th of August that Elio di Rupo, the leader of the French-speaking socialists (PS) and at that time ‘preformateur’ in the Belgian government negotiations, had to accept failure to reach an agreement after ten hours of discussions with seven political parties around the same table. Since then no meeting was possible of all Flemish and French-speaking parties that would be willing to go together in the same federal government.
Next Tuesday the present negotiator, outgoing minister of Finance Didier Reynders, is to report at the Palace about his mission that started on February the 2th. He has been seeing many parties, and spoke a lot with the two antagonists, Bart De Wever of the Flemish nationalist NVA, and Elio di Rupo. But it is unclear if he has made any progress, and what coalition he might propose to start negotiations.
Rumours abide, about all kind of scenarios, and even about some slight improvement of the atmosphere in the talks. But the most likely scenario continues to be that negotiations will be prolonged until April, when the caretaking government will have to depose his budgetary homework to the European Council, as an obligation in the new so-called ‘European semester’. If this succeeds – still a big if - then new elections could become possible with a reduced risk of vulneraibility against the vagaries of the financial markets. But please, do not bet on it.

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