The country is facing six months of political impasse followed by new elections before a new government can be formed, according to veteran politician Eric Van Rompuy.
Van Rompuy, brother of former prime minister and president of the European Council Herman, is stepping down as a member of parliament for Flemish Christian democrat party CD&V following a career of 38 years as a political representative at municipal, Flemish, federal and European levels.
“The vetoes issued by N-VA and PS will guarantee a total blockage,” he said in an interview with De Zondag, referring to the refusal of both parties to work together with the other. “I predict six months of standstill, followed by new elections.”
Last weekend’s elections revealed a fundamental split in the country, between nationalist N-VA and Vlaams Belang in Flanders, and socialist PS and Ecolo in Wallonia. Each main party has sworn not to work with the other, and the solution offered by socialist Elio Di Rupo to govern with a coalition which leaves Flemish parties in a minority has been rejected by not only N-VA but also conservatives Open VLD.
N-VA president Bart De Wever stated prior to the election that if a nationwide consensus could not be found, the country would have to pass to confederalism – where each region would have sweeping new powers leaving the federal government with responsibilities encompassing only justice and national defence – a solution Van Rompuy, departing from party policy, now sees as inevitable.
“If the blockage is complete,” he said. “I see no other solution.” The parties would then have to come together as a government with the sole purpose of making a confederal state possible, as the only way to keep Belgium together.
As far as his own party is concerned, he predicts Hilde Crevits, until now a minister in the Flemish government, as a new president. The actual current president, Wouter Van Beke, has been criticised for pushing Crevits as a new Flemish minister-president to counter N-VA president Bart De Wever.
“I hope Hilde becomes the new president, Van Rompuy said. “She would be the ideal figure to put our message across to the broader public. Although I’m not sure she would want that.”