"End of Belgium not nigh"

Sunday's big demonstration in Brussels in protest against the political stalemate has sparked a wealth of reactions.

Alexander De Croo, the leader of the Flemish liberal party that pulled the plug out of the last Federal Government, has said that Sunday's demonstration is a signal that the majority of the people in the country do not desire the end of Belgium.

Mr De Croo understands that people are fed up by the fact that there is still no prospect of a new Federal Government. The Open VLD leader also insisted that the demonstration meant that people believe that the formula of the seven-party talks on state reforms is dead. He added: "People want the politicians involved in the talks to stop sabotaging the operation as happened in recent days."

He believes that the formula is dead because no speedy progress is anticipated. The Flemish liberal leader insists that in addition to state reforms Belgium's social economic difficulties too need to be addressed.

In this respect Mr De Croo said that on social economic issues - unlike on state reforms - the fault line was between the right and the left and that Flemish economic thinking was underrepresented in the talks at the moment.

The Flemish liberal leader rejected the idea of fresh elections out of hand: "There was a clear result on 13 June." He added that elections at this point would be dangerous given the backdrop of the economic crisis and speculation against Eurozone countries. Mr De Croo also rejected the idea of excluding either the Flemish nationalists or the Francophone socialists from the new government.

N-VA: "We share demonstrators' concerns"

Flemish nationalist lawmaker Ben Weyts says that the message sent out by this demo that attracted over 30,000 protesters cannot be ignored, but, at the same time, last year's election result in which his Flemish nationalist party N-VA became Belgium's and Flanders largest political party was an important signal too.

Mr Weyts added that he shared the concerns of the demonstrators and that he too wants a government, but the Flemish nationalist lawmaker insisted that any new government should be a good one and one based on a good government agreement: "If this is not the case, then we will once again be in trouble as in the past years. Everybody who is concerned about the prosperity of our people can no longer accept the status quo."

Mr Weyts also compared the signal of Sunday's March of Shame with the result of the 2010 general election: "1.2 million Flemings cast their vote for the Flemish nationalist party. This was a choice in favour of change, in favour of a fundamental state reform and a solution to the issue of the Brussels Halle Vilvoorde Constituency. The electorate gave us a task to do and that is what we want to complete."
 

"They've blown the whistle on politicians"

Outgoing Foreign Minister and leading Flemish Christian democrat Steven Vanackere has warned that some politicians may be tempted to use Sunday's demonstration in favour of a new government for their own ends. Mr Vanackere also asked for Belgium's triumvirate, Johan Vande Lanotte (Flemish socialist), Bart De Wever (Flemish nationalist) and Elio Dir Rupo (Francophone socialist) to be given time to get the state reform deal on the tracks.

Mr Vanackere insisted that all politicians should take on board the message sent out by the demonstrators. He admitted he was under the impression of the demo: "People often say nobody is interested in politics any longer, but in no time a lot of people joined this demo in order to dispatch a clear signal."

The Foreign Minister warned against politicians now insisting that rivals should give ground: "It is a reproach to all politicians collectively." Referring to the demonstration slogan "Shame" he added than he felt more frustrated that ashamed. He refused to be drawn on whether the demonstration would have any real impact on the political process.

The leading Flemish Christian democrat also warned against overhasty action insisting that the formula with talks led by a triumvirate was a good approach and one that should have been tried earlier.