Francophone parties collectively reject N-VA plans

  • Francophone party leaders emphasize the danger of Bart De Wever’s ideas.
  • PS and CDH accuse MR of proximity to the nationalists.
  • “Double-barrel poison” responds Denis Ducarme (MR).

After a few days of careful reflection, the main francophone party leaders ended their silence following the N-VA’s presentation of its roadmap early last week.

Condemnation was unanimous. “This party’s ultimate goal is now clear: the end of Belgium and the end of our social model. Their plans are the complete opposite of ours,” declared Paul Magnette, PS president, on RTL-TVI.

MR maintained the same tone. In the Echo this weekend Charles Michel said, “I’ve always said that I didn’t believe the N-VA’s socioeconomic plan was sincere. Today, the facts prove me 100% right. The N-VA’s economic and social plan is a trap to destroy the country.”

On the speaking circuit, CDH and Ecolo didn’t have any kinder words for the nationalist party.

These rejections were expected. However, the weekend’s statements brought to light another issue: the PS and CDH highlighted the liberal francophones’ “closeness” to the N-VA.

Last week, liberal Walloon deputy Jean-Luc Crucke brought up the possibility of a government with the MR and the N-VA. This weekend, Charles Michel called it a “clumsy statement.” The PS and CDH jumped on this gaffe to strike out at the liberal francophones.

“I hope the N-VA’s plan won’t find a partner anywhere,” Paul Magnette said. “Lately, some francophones have been tempted. Didier Reynders went to Antwerp to talk with Bart De Wever. We heard Jean-Luc Crucke speak a few days ago about a government with the N-VA. I’m warning the francophones: The N-VA’s plans are dangerous for Brussels.”

The example of Brussels, mentioned by the PS president, wasn’t used by coincidence, since Didier Reynders is campaigning there.

Melchior Wathelet (CDH) employed the same strategy when he spoke at the RTBF.

“The N-VA’s intentions are now clear. As recently as last week, some francophones, such as Mr. Crucke of the MR, spoke about an alliance with the N-VA. Bart De Wever still has the ability to sweet-talk some people.” 

Denis Ducarme, MR, did not appreciate those statements. “That’s enough of your double-barrel poison. Charles Michel has said for years that the N-VA is dangerous for the country. We have nothing to do with the N-VA, and we don’t want anything to do with it. Some parties, and one part of the press, are having fun trying to paint us as the francophone party that’s the closest to the N-VA. But we’re not the ones who have been negotiating for over a year with the N-VA.”

The weekend’s debates and discussions also shed light on how the CD&V is distancing itself from the N-VA. Eric Van Rompuy, who is not the most moderate of Flemish Christians, said, “I support a very robust federalism, but we have never advocated confederalism as the N-VA does, because that is in fact separatism. De Wever wants to turn Belgium into a tomb; he’d be more of a gravedigger than a prime minister.”

It’s an interesting separation because last week, Brussels minister Brigitte Grouwels (CD&V) indicated that she was comfortable with some of the N-VA’s ideas, leading some to suspect that the CD&V would follow her lead. That, however, is apparently not going to happen…at least not at francophone podiums. There have not been any similar statements from Flanders, and particularly not from the party president, Wouter Beke.

The VLD has repeated its opposition to Bart De Wever’s plan. For Brussels budget minister Guy Vanhengel, “the nationalist strategy is more clear…but it’s an extremely diabolical strategy. What is the endpoint of all this? Flemish independence! Making Belgians believe that a country’s independence would make us all more prosperous – that’s the opposite of reality!”

It should be noted that this is the statement of a Brussels minister at a francophone podium, while the party president, Alexander De Croo, has yet to be heard…

BERNARD DEMONTY

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