Flemish liberals press for a "slim government"

The fewer parties in the new federal coalition government, the better. This message was repeated by Open VLD party head Alexander De Croo and by the liberal minister Vincent Van Quickenborne yesterday evening and this morning, on the eve of the social economic talks. The liberals would rather continue the talks without the greens.

As a deal on a state reform has been reached, it's time to start the social economic chapter. The parties at the table will have to decide about which austerity measures have to be taken, and will have to make important economic choices. More taxes, or more cuts to reduce the budget deficit? Keeping the employees longer in work, and reducing unemployment benefits?

There are 8 parties at the table at present: the Flemish and Francophone socialists, Christian democrats, liberals and greens. However, 8 is a crowd. At least, this is what the Flemish liberals of Open VLD are finding. The Open VLD wants a liberal policy, and prefers to dump the greens to be able to make more liberal choices.

Late yesterday, Alexander De Croo told the VRT that he wants less taxes than what is being proposed now. He wants to make reforms in line with what is proposed by the EU in the so-called six-pack.

Vincent Van Quickenborne repeated the Open VLD demands this morning. "There is no use in negotiating when you are not really necessary at the table", he said, referring to the fact that without the greens, the 6 remaining parties will have to cooperate, no matter what happens. With only 6 parties in the government, it will be "a slim government."

If the greens are ousted, the Flemish parties will not have a majority in federal parliament, but this doesn't have to be a problem to carry out the state reform. The Flemish greens have announced that they have a deal with their Francophone colleagues of Ecolo. If one goes, the other follows. "We're in this together", the greens say.