BRUSSELS – No white smoke, again

With 233 days since the federal elections, the King has extended the mission of the coalition talks informants, Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) and Joachim Coens (CD&V), until 28 January.

“The different parties must now be able to stabilise and occupy the same positions for a period slightly longer than just a few days,” Bouchez said.

The decision will give some parties the possibility to “further clarify their different positions”. Over the weekend, the Conservative CD&V repeated its intentions of building a majority with the Flemish nationalist  N-VA, while the latter seemed to stretch out its hand towards the Socialists.

Meanwhile, the opposition is growing impatient with the shift to the centre-right and beyond.

“The time has come to take steps in the federal negotiations and to leave the small political games behind us,” said Walloon Greens party leader (Ecolo), Jean-Marc Nollet, during their New Year’s reception on Monday morning.

Lashing out at the N-VA, he added: “Anyone who thinks that the N-VA really wants to co-operate is mistaken. We should no longer pay attention to those who want to destroy the country. Anyone who still leaves the door open for the N-VA bears a heavy responsibility for the political crisis.”

N-VA’s Bart De Wever had celebrated his party’s central position in the current political debate during the party’s New Year’s reception saying that “with the new Flemish government, I dare to say that the 1920s will be ours again.”

“They want to split the country, we want to give it a future. They are climate sceptics, we want a serious change for the environment. And we definitely want strong social security,” Nollet added.

Belgium has a peculiar fascination with not having a government: to keep track have a look at Le Soir’s government fall countdown here.

(Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)

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