BRUSSELS – With or without N-VA?

There is still great uncertainty hanging over the Belgian federal government formation, as informers Joachim Coens (CD&V) and Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR) once again prepare to visit the King this Monday afternoon. \

After 232 days of coalition talks, which over time had shifted more towards the centre-right, it is still unclear, whether it will be possible to combine the two biggest parties, the Flemish nationalist N-VA and Socialist PS.

“Every day that passes without government only strengthens the populists”, Bouchez warned on Sunday. “Eight months after the elections, the time for hypotheses, rumours, small personal or partisan interests is over,” Bouchez said, adding that “no one will have the coalition of their dreams”.

Meanwhile, Conservative leader Coen Geens (CD&V), speaking at an event in Leuven, warned against the dangers of separatism which threatens Belgium and Europe.

“When Belgium was founded, many thought that we would not last more than ten years. Yet it has grown to become one of the most interesting experiences there is. Let’s make it continue, with Brussels at the centre. It never hurts us,” Geens said.

However, so far the Socialists have been unimpressed by the offers that seemed to be made over the weekend as the N-VA sets two requirements for joining a federal government: the continuation of a strict migration policy and “continuing on the chosen path to socio-economic recovery”.

N-VA seemed to try to accommodate the Socialists, indicating their openness for an allowance for an increase to basic pensions. But whether this means a minimum pension of €1,500, which the Socialist parties want, is unclear.

What is sure is, that after the outstretched hand by N-VA leader Bart De Wever towards the Socialists over the weekend, there will need to be time for a response, which could result in a prolonging of the informants’ mandate. 

Meanwhile, as voices for new elections become louder, former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (PS) called on Thursday not to rush early elections at the risk of a victory for extreme parties.

(Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)

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