N-VA leader winds up first round of talks on new Flemish Government
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    N-VA leader winds up first round of talks on new Flemish Government

    N-VA president Bart De Wever on Wednesday concluded his first round of talks with the leaders of other Flemish parties with a view to forming a new government in the north of the country.

    After an initial series of talks on Tuesday, the head of the Nieuw-Vlaams Alliantie met on Wednesday with the head of the Flemish liberals, Gwendolyn Rutten, Christen Democratish en Vlaams (CD&G) leader Wouter Beke, the head of Vlaams Belang, Tom Van Grieken, and the two vice-presidents of his own party, Lorin Parys and Cieltje Van Achter, in that order.

    The various participants gave few details of the content of their discussions.

    Queried by the press on the opportuneness of forming a federal government without the NV-A, CD&V’s Wouter Beke commented that it would be “logical” for the N-VA to be part of the next federal government, “but, for that, it needs to be ready to take up its responsibilities.” The head of the Flemish Christian Democrats repeated that it was unimaginable for him to be in the Flemish government with Vlaams Belang since their respective political programmes were too far apart.

    As on Tuesday, De Wever had prepared a series of little gifts, some of them unusual, for his invitees. Open Vld’s Gwendolyn Rutten, for example, came away with a cleaning set for her spectacles printed with her campaign slogan.

    Wouter Beke received a windscreen wiper and a bottle of defrosting liquid.

    Described just before the election as a “paljas” (buffoon) by De Wever, Tom Van Grieken arrived for their meeting with a bottle of Paljas, an artisanal Flemish beer, which he gave to his host. At the end of the meeting, De Wever, who had apparently had the same idea, gave Van Grieken a six-pack of the same brand of beer.

    “Apparently we think the same way about many things,” quipped Van Grieken, who said he hoped  to be able to form a government with the N-VA leader.

    De Wever’s last two visitors, the vice-presidents of his party, each received a copy of his latest book, “Over identiteit” (About identity). They had thought of taking a bottle of Dafalgan Forte for him, a reference to the statements by Bart De Wever on Sunday, to the effect that the king would need the painkillers to be able to form a new federal government.

    “It’s not an easy task to form a federal government and a Flemish government, so he really needs it,” Lorin Parys commented.

    De Wever made no comment on his discussions but said he would have “discreet contacts in the next few days to work out the next steps for the formation of the Flemish government.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times