Francophone Belgium in profound political crisis as Christian democrats pull out Author: Michaël Torfs

Belga
Mon 19/06/2017 - 15:17 Update: Mon 19/06/2017 - 17:32 Michaël Torfs The Francophone Christian democrats of CDH have announced that they are pulling out of the three regional governments they are part of: the Brussels and Walloon regional governments and also the Francophone community government. The surprise announcement puts Brussels and Wallonia in a complete crisis. Flemish party leaders think this crisis will not impact on the federal coalition government.

CDH leader Benoît Lutgen staged a press conference in the early afternoon. Despite the recent political scandals in Brussels and Wallonia, his statement and strong decision came as a surprise. Lutgen said his party no longer wishes to cooperate with the PS, the Francophone socialists, and therefore resigns from three governments.

Lutgen wants a complete break-up with the PS which he says bears "an enormous responsibility" in the recent scandals that rocked Francophone politics. Lutgen is calling on other Francophone parties (the liberals of MR - the party of federal Prime Minister Charles Michel - the greens of Ecolo, and DéFi) to form new coalitions now without the PS. The far-left PTB is not a real option for Lutgen, and meanwhile DéFi has said they are no so eager to come to the rescue.

Scandals

Recent scandals involved Samusocial, the organisation for the homeless in Brussels, and Publifin. In both cases, the bottom line was that politicians took up seats in non-profit or other organisations, earning a lot of extra cash by attending meetings.

The amount of these attendance fees was often excessive and sometimes there was fiddling involved, with a thin line between meetings that did or did not take place. While various parties were involved, it was the PS in particular that made bad publicity for politics.

The different governments are now falling short of a majority with the CDH pulling out, and will have to make new coalitions.

"No impact on the federal level"

Bart De Wever of the Flemish nationalist N-VA says that "he follows the events in Wallonia closely," but as far as he is concerned "this has no impact on the federal level." De Wever says the N-VA wants to continue working in a stable government until the end of the term in 2019.

The CDH is not part of the federal coalotion, nor is the PS. Gwendolyn Rutten, the Flemish liberal leader, reacted in a similar way.