Share article:
Share article:

Government minister pours cold water over coalition talks

Pieter De Crem. © Belga

Home affairs minister Pieter De Crem (CD&V) has been describing the problems he foresees his party facing if they were to join the coalition currently being formed to make up a new government.

De Crem is considered one of the leading figures on the right of his Flemish Christian Democrat party. He has been in parliament for 25 years, and in government since 2007, serving as minister for defence, foreign trade and now home affairs.

The party has also spent many years in government, delivering prime ministers like Wilfried Martens, Jean-Luc Dehaene, Yves Leterme and Herman Van Rompuy, dating back to the country’s first, Etienne de Gerlache, who served a term of less than a month in 1831.

But now, CD&V president Joachim Coens is involved in talks to form a coalition made up of socialists (PS and sp.a/Vooruit), liberals (MR and Open VLD), greens (Ecolo and Groen) and CD&V.

And the trouble with that plan, De Crem said in an interview with De Standaard today, is that his party would face “a gigantic credibility problem” were it to join the others.

We are mathematically superfluous,” he explained. The six other parties have enough seats to form a majority, in fact.

My experience shows that such a thing means that we will not have a role to play. We will never be able to veto a bill. Imagine that the government gets going and a bill is presented to extend the term for abortion. That’s a horror scenario.”

The only reason CD&V has been asked to the talks, he said, is purely tactical.

We have only been asked to get around the table to bring the coalition as close as possible to a Flemish majority. That’s why.”

He might also have mentioned that bringing CD&V into the tent has the effect of boosting the government majority by 12 MPs and so weakening the opposition.

The main objection to the exclusion of N-VA, whose president Bart De Wever had been in promising talks with PS president Paul Magnette, was that it would lead to a government with a Flemish minority, thus not representative of the Flemish majority in the population.

And De Crem was almost nostalgic over the idea of a government between PS and N-VA.

We could be happy with their terms,” he said. “Unfortunately Open-VLD came in and blew purple-yellow out of the water,” referring to the coalition PS (red), MR (blue), N-VA (yellow) coalition.

But the so-called Vivaldi coalition (because of the colours of the parties and the movements of the composer’s Four Seasons suite) has offered CD&V no guarantees or reassurances.

“Niente, nada, nothing. I do not have the impression that the text, which is full of generalities, contains many of our points,” he said.

It most closely resembles the Groen and Ecolo program, with terms such as carrying capacity, or the widest shoulders that have to bear the heaviest loads. The greens are homesick for purple-green. Me too, because afterwards the Greens dropped below the electoral threshold.”

Now, whatever the next step may be, the deadline imposed by Open-VLD president Egbert Lachaert, leading the talks with Flemish socialist president Conner Rousseau, seems impossible to meet.

That’s just not feasible,” De Crem said. “I have never seen so many parties argue so much when forming a government. The previous purple-green government had an open-debate culture, this one seems to be an open-warfare culture. If anything comes out at all, it will have to be a very detailed agreement. Vivaldi will not be able to make interim agreements.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Will Brussels bounce back?
The lockdowns have tested the city and forced it to confront key questions about its future. Derek Blyth looks back at an extraordinary moment in our ...
Huge cannabis farm discovered inside closed down Chinese restaurant near Charleroi
A cannabis plantation with several hundred mature plants was dismantled on Friday evening in a former Chinese restaurant on Chaussée de Bruxelles ...
Citizen founded wind turbine project launched in Liège region
A citizen founded wind turbine project was inaugurated in the Liège Region on Saturday by Walloon Energy Minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) together ...
Five questions to philosopher Philippe Van Parijs on Leopold II and embarrassment in Brussels’ public space
The worldwide explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, combined with the 60th anniversary of the ...
Belgium to invest in sustainable heating in 2022
The federal government will set aside about one million euros in its 2022 budget for a social tariff for sustainable heating, Federal Energy Minister ...
Anti-vaxxers demonstrate against Covid Safe Ticket in Brussels
Hundreds of supporters of the anti-vaxx movement gathered on Saturday outside the headquarters of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to protest ...
Belgium’s investment funds total 260 billion euros in assets
Belgium’s funds industry grew by 5.3% (13 billion euros) in the second quarter of this year, bringing investment funds available to the public to ...
Brussels to Luxembourg by train in two hours soon possible
The fastest train ride between Brussels and Luxembourg currently takes almost three hours, but that could be slashed to about two hours thanks to the ...
Daily Covid infections up by almost 30% in Belgium
Between 6 and 12 October, an average of 2,438 people were infected with the Covid-19 virus every day, according to figures from the Sciensano public ...
Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...