Federal government: Is this the day for a breakthrough?
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    Federal government: Is this the day for a breakthrough?

    CD&V president Joachim Coens: his party members hold the key © Belga

    The two senior politicians sent out by the King to assess the possibility of finding a way to the creation of a new fully-fledged government will report back to His Majesty today, on what could be the end of the state of uncertainty in which Belgium has been since 21 December 2018.

    Patrick Dewaele (Open VLD) and Sabine Laruelle (MR) are generally regarded as the last possibility of creating a government before the country is forced to hold new federal elections in an attempt to break the impasse.

    The problem until now has been the fact that the country is split into two major blocs: socialists (PS) in Wallonia and Brussels, and Flemish nationalists (N-VA) in Flanders.

    The PS has stated categorically that it will not under any circumstances govern with the N-VA. The Flemish party, for its turn, has declared itself open to all possibilities.

    One solution would be the Vivaldi coalition, so-called because its four components are thought to represent the composer’s Four Seasons: red for socialists PS and sp.a; blue for conservatives MR and Open VLD; green for ecologists Groen and Ecolo; and orange for Christian democrats CD&V.

    The coalition would have sufficient votes in the parliament to be able to govern. But CD&V with its 12 seats is the fly in the ointment. The party has hitherto refused to agree to a coalition which does not have a Flemish majority. In other words, one without the participation of N-VA.

    But this week saw the sign of a possible breakthrough. Joachim Coens, the mayor of Damme and former CEO of the port of Zeebrugge who was catapulted into a national role in the presidency of CD&V in November last year in mid-crisis, decided to consult his party’s members as to the road forward.

    The move was seen as an attempt to break the log-jam by placing the responsibility for abandoning the Flemish majority on the party membership. The party sent out an online poll to its registered members at the weekend; the results are not yet known. But today could be the day to find out.

    Dewaele and Laruelle have, as they promised, been working in the utmost discretion since being appointed by the King. They will doubtless be in touch with Coens before they report to the palace at 16.00, to find out if his party prefers a new government to ideological constancy.

    If so, the way is open for a new government. If not, a new election is probably unavoidable.

    The king will find out this afternoon; the rest of the country some time later.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times