N-VA prepared to make concessions
15 October 2007
BRUSSELS – The N-VA chairman Bart De Wever is willing to make some concessions to the Francophone liberals to help them swallow the bitter pill of the splitting up of the administrative arondissement Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde.
The anxiety within the N-VA is growing. Tomorrow the orange-blue negotiations will enter a crucial phase. Formateur Yves Leterme will then resume discussions on the splitting up of Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde and on further steps in the state reforms. These discussions had stalled since the exploratory mission of Herman Van Rompuy (CD&V) had failed to reach a communal agreement.
At a party meeting of the N-VA on Saturday, the concern of the party hardliners with regard to a too weak communal compromise came to the fore. “I share this concern”, said chairman Bart De Wever. “Because community-wise nothing has yet been concluded. There is enormous determination within the whole party.”
On the eve of these ‘crucial’ negotiations the mild tone of De Wever’s language on TV programme “De Zevende Dag” became more and more conspicuous. The extension of the Brussels district or fiddling with the facilities are still not acceptable to the Flemish-nationalist chairman. But he openly admitted to having a preference for a negotiated solution to the Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde question. De Wever realises that the splitting up of the voting district is a sticking point for the Francophone liberals. “If they need a spoonful of honey to swallow this bitter pill, then we are prepared to negotiate the point”, he said.
A few hours after this statement, De Wever felt the need to rephrase his words. He stated that the spoonful of honey should not be seen as an award for the splitting-up, but as a ‘sweetener’ within an overall coalition agreement.
De Wever will not push for a vote on the Flemish bills for a splitting-up of Brussels, Halle and Vilvoorde in the special Home Affairs committee. “That would lead to a long-lasting government crisis. As an N-VA member, I am not afraid of this, but it is not on the agenda,” he said, in a telephone call to ‘De Standaard’. “But the Francophones need to be fully aware that, should the splitting-up not be willingly achieved, it will be done unwillingly”.
The N-VA had previously, in the sidelines of the formation negotiations, proposed to leave it to a vote in parliament, whereby the Francophones could have made use of the ‘alarm bell’ procedure, subsequently leading to a conflict of interests. But MR-chairman Didier Reynders is extremely wary of such a scenario, as this would bring the PS back into the picture. This would mean the end of the orange-blue option.
Meanwhile optimistic Flemish negotiators, both in CD&V and Open VLD, are talking about a new government within three to four weeks. That would mean that the community issue should be resolved this week.
[Copyright: Expatica news]
Subject: Belgian news