The N-VA does not believe forming a federal coalition with the PS will work.
“There is a big socio-economic canyon” between the two parties, admits Geert Bourgeois. His royal mission to pre-form a government with socialist Rudy Demotte ended at the beginning of this week. Bourgeois revealed that it’s not just the two parties in question that have massive differences in opinion in an interview published by De Tijd and L’Echo on Saturday.
Bourgeois used the example of reaching the target of 80% employment to illustrate the gulf separating the socialists and nationalists. “The PS prefers to focus on public employment and reduce working hours while keeping salaries the same. It doesn’t want to make the job market more flexible, limit the amount of time someone can claim unemployment benefits, or get rid of pre-pensions. The PS wants to increase spending by billions of euros and compensate by increasing taxes.”
“That’s not ok. We do want to increase the lowest pensions, but we will not massively increase benefits and make the Flemish people foot the bill. They are already paying 70% of the tax in this country,” he said. Bourgeois is the former Flemish Minister-president and is now a MEP.
He thinks there are not just differences between the socialists and the N-VA. “The PS found our communal propositions interesting. A few of the regionalists among their ranks are onside and people have been maturing since Elio Di Rupo became Minister-president. The problem is that the MR does not want to remove anything from the community plan and it is putting pressure on the PS.”
Will Belgium still exist in five years? “I think that in 2024, yes,” he replied. And after that? “We’ll see…”