Nationalist N-VA ‘not ruled out’ of federal coalition, says lead socialist negotiator
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    Nationalist N-VA ‘not ruled out’ of federal coalition, says lead socialist negotiator

    Jean-Claude Marcourt, the newly appointed lead negotiator for the Parti Socialist said a federal coalition with the N-VA could not be ruled out. Credit: © Belga

    A federal coalition with a Flemish nationalist party cannot be excluded, the lead negotiator for the French-speaking socialists said moments after being appointed to oversee the formation of a federal government.

    “We will see, it’s tricky, but we cannot rule out that possibility,” Jean-Claude Marcourt said when questioned about the possibility to negotiate with the nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), according to news agency Belga.

    Marcourt’s comments stand in contrast to those made by senior party colleague Laurette Onkelinx, who in August refused to discuss any collaboration with the N-VA, calling the party “completely incompatible” with the French-speaking socialists.

    Marcourt was appointed to take over party colleague Elio Di Rupo’s spot at the federal negotiating table, with the latter set to return to regional politics for his third term as Walloon Minister-President.

    Recently appointed as president of Wallonia’s regional parliament, Marcourt will now be tasked with negotiating for the French-speaking Parti Socialiste together with socialist mayor Charleroi Paul Magnette, in a role which could see him secure a federal ministry position.

    Overseen by two senior government officials known as royal informants, negotiations for the formation of a federal government have been sluggish, with parties struggling to reach an agreement following Belgium’s divisive election results, which saw nationalist and far-right parties surge.

    Écolo, the Francophone greens, refused to take part in negotiations with the N-VA, effectively taking Belgium’s green parties out of the federal government race, since their Flemish counterpart, Groen, said they would not rule without their sister party.

    Six parties are currently set to continue negotiating talks: the French and Dutch-speaking socialists (Parti Socialiste; sp.a), the French and Dutch-speaking liberals (MR; Open Vld) and the Dutch-speaking Christian-democratic party CD&V.

    At the start of October, the royal informants are expected to present King Philippe with a final report in order to officially launch the formation of a federal government.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times