Our Flemish correspondent ProFlandria just sent the following update to last night’s post on the political crisis in Belgium. First, his translation of this press release posted this afternoon on the Vlaams Belang website:
08.11.2007 16.02 [local time] — “Vlaams Belang expresses its deep indignation upon learning of the palace machinations which were today jointly carried out by Ives Leterme [tasked with forming a new federal government] and the King.
It appears that Leterme has been able to persuade the Palace to support enactment of the “Milquet Note”, thus assigning all inter-regional issues to the President of Parliament and tasking Leterme separately to form a Government without a mandate to address inter-regional issues.
Vlaams Belang wonders whether Belgium is still a democracy. In the corridors of the Royal Palace it is apparently possible to concoct a theatrical production in which the voters, who on the Flemish side have very clearly indicated that a social-economic policy is impossible with State reform [devolution of federal powers to the regions], are pushed aside.
Vlaams Belang therefore calls upon the representatives of CD&V [Christian Democrats] and N-VA [the “other” Flemish Nationalists] to reign in Leterme and to sabotage his suspect machinations. In any case, N-VA must decisively reject the process described in the Milquet Note!”
Joris Van Hauthem
ProFlandria adds his own take on these events:
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Leterme is in that classical position where, in order to succeed in his mission of forming a federal government, he must be seen to please every faction. The process described in the “Note” would indefinitely postpone any real action on those issues I described in the post yesterday by allowing the formation of a new Government without the power to adjudicate those issues. I don’t believe that the President of Parliament has any power beyond “studying” the problem; any recommendations would still have to go to a properly mandated Government for enactment — and this one can’t act by design. In effect, the “Note” raises the usually unintended situation of “Catch-22” to intentional political strategy. The only silver lining is that Leterme has to “sell” this solution to the Flemish faction (the Walloons are just fine with it) , so it’s not necessarily a done deal…
FYI, Joelle Milquet (she of the Note) is the representative for (and Chairman of) cdH (Centre Democrate Humaniste) and First Alderman of Brussels. During this past year’s negotiations to form a new government she became known in Flanders as “Madame NON” for her stubborn refusal to entertain even the meekest Flemish supplications for reciprocity.
In the meantime, Belgian media outlets on both sides of the divide are reacting to yesterday’s events with emotions ranging from indignation to outrage — more proof, if any were needed, that they are no more than a megaphone for the Belgian regime. Short version: “Those evil Flemings brutally forced their majority upon those poor Walloons” — not a peep about Wallonian refusal to simply comply with a Constitutional requirement… Tomorrow I hope to send a quick overview of the reactions together with VB’s counterpoint. And, as a bonus, Freddy Thielemans’ reaction as well — you know, that guy!
Yes, we know him: Emperor Freddy of the Proud Socialist Girth, the Wallonian Hero of the 9-11 Counterrevolution.