‘Destroy Vivaldi? A dent in a carton of butter will be a lot ‘- Belgium

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‘The best the opposition can hope for is that Vivaldi will perish from its own flaws,’ says Knack editor-in-chief Bert Bultinck.

“It stands still on the Ring, people keep arriving”: it could have come from a plea for a better mobility policy, but it was the words of Tom Van Greeks who led the protest against the Vivaldi government on Sunday afternoon. With an estimated 5000 cars, the protesters stood in the Heysel parking lot with yellow and black flags under the slogan ‘Not my government’. The protest came early. Earlier than the government it is targeting. At that time, the Vivaldi parties were still busy tinkering with the coalition agreement. So the protest could not really be about concrete policy. Party chairman Van Greeks spoke of the ‘largest manifestation that Vlaams Belang has ever organized’. The choice of cars was convenient – the weather was not great – and it could also be marketed as a provocation of the environmental pro …

“It stands still on the Ring, people keep arriving”: it could have come from a plea for a better mobility policy, but it was the words of Tom Van Greeks who led the protest against the Vivaldi government on Sunday afternoon. With an estimated 5000 cars, the protesters stood in the Heysel parking lot with yellow and black flags under the slogan ‘Not my government’. The protest came early. Earlier than the government it is targeting. At that time, the Vivaldi parties were still busy tinkering with the coalition agreement. So the protest could not really be about concrete policy. Party chairman Van Greeks spoke of the ‘largest manifestation that Vlaams Belang has ever organized’. The choice of cars was convenient – the weather was not great – and could also be marketed as a provocation of the environmentally conscious elite. Since the resistance of the French yellow vests against green fuel taxes, the car has become a symbol of an impoverished population group that does not feel heard. And of the not impoverished yet malcontent middle class of, for example, the Antwerp ‘golden edge’, which hides behind the less well-off. It was without a doubt a media success. For the telegenic action, with face masks and without violence, the Schoten politician, who still served in the advertising sector, received flowers from various sides. Political commentator Noël Slangen called Van Greeks in Het Laatste Nieuws as ‘strategically ingenious’ and already ‘the outspoken leader of the opposition’. It is still unclear exactly how vulnerable the Vivaldi government will be – its tumultuous birth has less predictive power than some think – but the VB chairman clearly has the best cards in the opposition. He was the big winner of the federal election, and he knows how to start and steer debates in Trump times. By the way, he doesn’t have to be that ingenious at all: he can simply copy the most suitable – read: the slightly less raunchy one – from the range of tactics on the other side of the ocean. Trump’s techniques are demagogically and intellectually false, and that is an advantage for Van Greeks: the other Flemish parties will not use them for that reason, which will make Vlaams Belang stand out more. Extremely positive about the Heysel protest was N-VA chairman Bart De Wever, who has long realized that he will not become the leader of the opposition. ‘A very clever action’, he said in the VRT program De seventh day, ‘very impressive’. In the coming years it will be busy in the Flemish nationalist opposition. The N-VA is in a particularly difficult situation, which in the end is no more than a translation of its election result: far too large to be able to credibly interpret the anti-establishment vote, and at the same time no longer big enough to just go anywhere. seize power. In the Flemish government, the N-VA is dominant and has two coalition partners against whom it should fight federally. The party also put the draft purple-yellow government agreement online last week, with quirky comments pointing to the difference from the Vivaldi plans. This showed mainly the opposite: the differences are really not huge. ‘We will destroy them’, said Bart De Wever last week, in a tasteless TV moment that afterwards he dismissed himself as ‘café talk’. Destroy Vivaldi? A dent in a carton of butter will be a lot. The best the opposition can hope for is that Vivaldi will perish from its own flaws. With flamboyant beginners like Conner Rousseau (SP.A) and Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR), that hope is not in vain. But even that can go wrong. The opposition during the Swedish government was astonishingly weak – the SP.A was on the ropes, the Greens never even showed up in the ring, except for a few moments from Kristof Calvo – but she was especially bothered by the bickering in the government itself, which thus attracted all the attention. Is the Vivaldi construction shaky? Of course. It is quite possible that sooner or later she will explode. But it is doubtful whether that will be the work of the opposition. It is standing still on the Ring, and the N-VA is in a traffic jam.







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