De Wever says parties should consider confederalism

Summary

Belgium’s political parties should end the ‘misery’ of trying to form a federal coalition and give full power to the regions, said the N-VA chair

‘How long can we keep doing this?’

Bart De Wever (pictured), the chair of Flemish nationalist party N-VA, has said that confederalism or further state reform should be on the table in talks over forming a federal government. His remarks follow an election day that saw Flanders with a huge right-wing majority and Wallonia with just as big of a left-wing majority.

Forming a federal government under these circumstances is very difficult, especially as Wallonia is critical of voters who on Sunday made the extreme right Vlaams Belang the second biggest party in Flanders. The chair of French-speaking socialist party PS, former prime minister Elio Di Rupo, said it was his “personal vision” to form a federal government without a Flemish majority that would shut out N-VA.

Di Rupo pointed out that if Flemish parties CD&V, Open VLD, Groen and SP.A co-operated with French-speaking parties, this would be possible. That is unacceptable to N-VA, which won more seats at the federal level on Sunday than any other party – 25, five seats more than PS.

Game over?

Confederalism would mean more powers for the regions, which already have wide jurisdictions. “Wallonia has gone left, more left than ever,” De Wever said on Radio 1. “The difference between Flanders and Wallonia has never been greater. If people would use their heads – though I realise that seldom happens in this country – then they, both left and right, would immediately put confederalism on the table and be done with all of this misery.”

Belgium famously went 18 months without a government between 2010 and 2011 as the political spectrum was so fragmented following the elections. “How long can we keep doing this?” De Wever said. “If Wallonia wants to go left, let them! Let them create their own policies. Flanders doesn’t want the same policies.”

De Wever went on to say that, considering the voters’ choice in Flanders on Sunday, he is not keen on creating a federal coalition with left-wing parties. Also, his party would also not stand for a federal coalition being created without it, or without a Flemish majority.

“Considering the outcome of this election, if an anti-Flemish government is formed, then for me it’s game over. You can push the wishes of the voters only so far, and that is too far.”

De Wever met with the king yesterday to discuss the government formation. As the chair of the largest party in Flanders, he is also in talks with other Flemish parties to form a regional government. Those talks are made challenging because of the cordon sanitaire in place against Vlaams Belang.

Photo: Bart De Wever on his way to meet the king on Monday
©Dirk Waem/BELGA