N-VA and CD&V joining forces in Flanders as government is "facing major challenges"

The Flemish nationalists of N-VA are initiating talks with the Christian democrats of CD&V to form a new Flemish coalition government. The key words at the press conference were new austerity measures, economic recovery and new jobs but also new investments. The move comes just one day after socialists and Christian democrats joined forces in Wallonia.

N-VA and CD&V would have a comfortable majority of 70 of the 124 seats in the Flemish hemisphere if they join forces. An alliance between both parties was expected, but it was an open question whether or not the Flemish liberals of Open VLD would join them. This is not the case, unless the Flemish talks between N-VA and CD&V would reach a deadlock, which is considered as highly improbable.

The ousting of the Flemish liberals was not received well by the Open VLD. Party leader Gwendolyn Rutten said that "if we can't be part of the Flemish government, we won't join a federal government either. It's all or nothing." This could complicate matters even more at the federal level.

The move by N-VA and CD&V comes just one day after the Francophone socialists of the PS and the Francophone Christian democrats of CDH announced they would form a government together in Wallonia.

New cuts ahead

The Flemish talks will start after the weekend. Geert Bourgeois (photo) will head the talks on behalf of the N-VA. He told the press conference in the Flemish Parliament building that "the next Flemish government is facing major challenges and that serious cuts will have to be made in public spending." The new austerity measures will also target the Flemish administrative departments "in a second phase of efficiency measures." He also said that big investments have to be made in the different economic sectors, both the industry and the social sector.

The outgoing Flemish PM Kris Peeters will head the CD&V delegation during the talks. He highlighted economic issues in his address: "Economic growth and new jobs are the big challenges of the coming years, as is the creation of a friendly climate for entrepreneurs." He added that investments will have to made in innovation, new schools, the care sector and mobility."

Both parties agree that their party manifestos "converge on several key issues" and are confident the talks will have a positive outcome.

Meanwhile, Bart De Wever is still the federal "informateur"

Meanwhile, Bart De Wever is still busy as "informateur" on the federal level. He is taking soundings from the different Francophone and Flemish parties to find out if he can create a coalition government between his N-VA and other political players. No details were released to the press about this. Mr De Wever was given an extra week by King Filip last Tuesday to continue his work. It is not clear how the developments on the regional level will affect the federal talks.

Mr De Wever has to present his final report to King Filip next Tuesday. Just after the elections, it was clear that whoever could form a government first, would have a tactical advantage over the other. It's probably no coincidence that the Flemish announcement comes just one day after the Walloon move. This being said, it seems unlikely that we will have a similar coalition government on the regional and the federal level, unless the N-VA and the socialists of the PS can find an agreement after all.