A government between two fires

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The Vivaldi government will be attacked from Flanders by the Vlaams Belang and the N-VA on its right flank, and from Wallonia by PTB / PVDA on its left flank. It will be holding hands in the center.

Even before the Vivaldi government is a fact, Tom Van Greeks and Bart De Wever showed on Sunday that they will fight the government of socialists, liberals, greens and CD&V from Opgrimbie to De Panne, to paraphrase former CD&V leader Yves Leterme. Leterme also said that it would be a government without a Flemish majority against Flanders that would not represent the will of the Flemish voter. The Vlaams Belang chairman organized a Flemish car caravan to Brussels, the N-VA foreman made himself noticed in the studios of ‘De seventh day’ and ‘VTM news’.



Van Greeks and De Wever will fight Vivaldi from Opgrimbie to De Panne, to paraphrase former CD&V leader Yves Leterme.

So the government can expect a crash on the right flank. It is somewhat the mirror image of how the Michel government, with only the liberals of the MR on board on the French-speaking side, was attacked especially from Wallonia by the rallied opposition on its left flank. An additional difficulty for Vivaldi is that the government can try to cover the right flank, but then it makes its left flank vulnerable to the opposition violence of the PTB / PVDA from Wallonia.

No Flemish front

De Wever made it clear in ‘The seventh day’ that he does not intend to form a Flemish front with the Vlaams Belang. The N-VA will shield its right flank to prevent a further exodus of voters to Vlaams Belang, but the party mainly wants to open the attack on the political center. In other words, the N-VA is not out to get voters of the Vlaams Belang back, but to suck out Open VLD and gobble up the center-right voters of CD&V.



The N-VA is not out to get voters of the Vlaams Belang back, but to suck out Open VLD and gobble up the center-right voters of CD&V.

It also fits into the political-strategic picture, as Van Greeks sees it. Vlaams Belang gains a monopoly on the right, while N-VA strengthens itself from the opposition in the center. This should help the Vlaams Belang and the N-VA together achieve a majority, which would make the N-VA ‘incontournable’ in Flanders. The N-VA will then be faced with the dire choice whether or not to partner with Vlaams Belang.

It will first have to be seen whether the Vivaldi government finds a certain schwung. It is an iron law in Rue de la Loi that a majority rarely gets into trouble because of the fireworks from outside. Everything stands or falls with the internal coherence. It was not the pounding of the PS and the Greens that got the Michel government into trouble, but that Kris Peeters (CD&V) sat on the luggage carrier and braked with two feet, as De Wever put it. And Prime Minister Charles Michel (MR) also turned out not to be the build to keep things together. Ultimately, the Michel government fell, because the N-VA pulled out following the Marrakesh Pact.

Experienced captain

With Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), it looks like Vivaldi will have an experienced captain and a politically cunning fox at the helm. He can keep the ship on course in choppy waters, even if his team of inexperienced sailors get seasick. For the Flemish parties on board, it will be a matter of political survival, and so they must help each other not to collapse. The Greens already see an important role for themselves by not making it difficult for the other parties.



The Greens already see an important role for themselves by not making it difficult for the other parties.

The danger is mainly on the French-speaking side in the government, where the PS and the MR are each other’s biggest competitor for the political market leadership in French-speaking Belgium. That is once again the mirror image of the Michel government. There it was not the French-speaking minority position of the MR that proved its weakness, but the electoral struggle on the Flemish side, with parties all fishing in the same center-right electoral pond.

New Kris Peeters

MR chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez is in danger of becoming a new Kris Peeters. With De Croo, he may now have a liberal prime minister at the head of a government perceived as left-wing, to which he will have to be loyal. In the last straight line of the negotiations, Bouchez is also expertly prepared, as a result of which he has been able to bring in little or nothing in terms of content to engage electorally in the eternal battle with the PS.



The cement will have to be that Vivaldi becomes a corona recovery government.

Vivaldi needs a project behind which all seven Vivaldi parties unite. A ‘positive’ project with a Belgian flavor over it will not suffice. Vivaldi must draw his strength from the fact that there is now finally a government, which can bring goodwill at the start. And then the cement must be that Vivaldi will become a recovery government after corona, just like the Michel government had the ambition to be a socio-economic recovery government. Major reforms are not immediately on the program this time, it will be quite an achievement to prevent greater calamity.





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