The Vivaldi negotiators must have a substantive and budgetary agreement on Wednesday morning. If not, the party congresses will be a joke.
A budgetary agreement, deciding on the last sentences in the text of the coalition agreement that is still under discussion, and then the division of the ministerial portfolios. The negotiators of the parties of the Vivaldi coalition (PS, SP.A, MR, Open VLD, Green, Ecolo and CD&V) went into the night on Tuesday evening with a solid agenda.
The discussion about the text of the coalition agreement was already well advanced on Tuesday evening, but the pain points in the budget table had not yet been resolved. The formators, Paul Magnette (PS) and Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), have drawn up a kind of synthesis text that continues to be worked on, but an agreement has not yet been reached.
All proposals on the wish list of the parties cost no less than 11 billion euros. That money is spent on a minimum pension of 1,500 euros per month, investments in railways, justice and police, support for companies or higher benefits.
The question is how much of that can be left in order to remain credible in terms of budget. The amounts vary – depending on the party – from 2 to 6 billion euros. It is clear that good intentions will have to be swallowed up, given that the deficit in the federal budget will in any case reach 26 billion euros.
If the last figures in the budgetary table have been corrected, this probably also means that the last brackets in the federal coalition agreement can be removed and the final obstacle awaits: the discussion about the division of the ministerial portfolios.
The fuss of the last few weeks about which party the prime minister is allowed to supply can then enter the final – possibly linked to additional substantive or budgetary concessions that are requested from the party that supplies the prime minister.
Looking forward to CD&V
On Tuesday evening, various parties realized that it must be done now. The deadline of October 1 is hanging over their heads. Failure to meet that deadline means a new round of pointed rods in the Chamber for Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, a loss of momentum and prestige.
Either way, it will be a rush. The parties must still be able to organize their accession conferences on Wednesday. In order to be able to do that with some credibility, a substantive and budgetary agreement must be submitted on Wednesday morning. The discussion about the minister’s portfolios can possibly be disconnected and discussed later in the day.
The seven parties have already planned conferences for Wednesday evening, physically or partially physically (CD&V, Groen, PS and SP.A) or online with the others. The main focus is on the atmosphere at CD&V, where there is dissatisfaction about joining the Vivaldi coalition. Chairman Joachim Coens will have a job to convince his supporters.
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