Sunday, 28 August 2011

Still in the slow lane

After almost ten days of new negotiations, the process of forming a new Belgian government seems to get stuck again. This will probably mean that the caretaking government will have to prepare the budget for 2012 to keep of the Eurocrisis.
After it was accepted on the 21st of July to get around a table again with eight parties, negotiations to form a new government in Belgium were suspended by formateur di Rupo for three weeks. Then on Friday the 19th of August, he succeeded in bringing all the presidents of the eight political parties around the same table again. This was the first time that all participants were brought together since early September last year.
Discussions centered on the institutional issues, with the question of the electoral district of Brussels first on the agenda, as was demanded by the Flemish Christian democrats of Mr. Wouter Beke. It seems that since then the negotiatiors have only listenend to each other’s point of views, without really negotiating. Talks should continue from Monday onwards.
All this shows that progress is still extremely scanty, after now 441 days since the elections of June 2010. It seems the French-speaking parties hoped for a bigger progress without the Flemish nationalists around the table,  but learned that the remaining Flemish parties want to cover themselves against a nationalist onslaught. The long duration is also becoming a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: coming out the negotiations without a big breakthrough is becoming a higher risk each day the world record-breaking formation lasts longer.
Prime minister Leterme of the outgoing government said half August that his government would try to prepare the new budget for 2012 if the new government is not ready to discuss it by the 10th of September. It seems this is indeed going to happen. But if a caretaking governments is well-placed to find the needed cuts of around 6 billion € remains very much to be seen