Francophone socialist leader “We have never issued a veto”

The leader of the Francophone socialists Paul Magnette has asked the leader of the Flemish nationalists Bart De Wever to give concrete proposals to back up the overture he made last weekend about raising pensions. Mr Magnette was speaking at his party’s New Year’s reception at  Pont à Celles (Hainaut).    

Mr De Wever’s comments about him being prepared to look into raising the minimum level of pensions was made at the’ Flemish nationalist’s New Year’s reception in Mechelen (Antwerp province) last Saturday evening. A response from the Francophone socialists had been eagerly awaited. On Wednesday the Francophone socialist First Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudy Vervoort said that his party would not enter into a federal coalition with the Flemish nationalists.   

However, the tone was somewhat different during Mr Magnette’s speech to the party faithful on Thursday evening. Mr Magnette left the door ajar and issued a challenge to the Flemish nationalists.

“I hear some say that they have made an opening. But they have to prove that they mean it”. 

The Francophone socialist reaffirms demands

Mr Magnette reaffirmed his party’s demands “The PS has been clear from the outset, from the election campaign, we want to re-join the path of social and ecological progress. We haven’t diverted a millimetre on this from day one”.

The party is demanding a minimum pension of 1,500 euro/month, extra cash for health care, big investments in the railways, wage increases and benefits that are above the poverty line.   

Speaking in an interview with the VRT’s current affairs programme Terzake, Mr Magnette explained further what he had said in his speech.

“We have always said that we will talk to everyone and that we respect the election result. However, we are sick of all these strategic games and manoeuvres fuelled by political ambition. It is now high time to talk about content.  

Interestingly, Mr Magnette implicitly contradicted his party colleagues Rudy Demotte and Rudy Vervoort, who both believe a federal coalition that includes both the Francophone socialists and the Flemish nationalists to be impossible.  

“We have never expressed a veto. We have spoken a lot with N-VA (the Flemish nationalists). We have had at least 15 meetings”, Mr Magnette said.

Nevertheless Mr Magnette reaffirmed that the water between his party and the Flemish nationalists is still very deep.   

"We are constructive and are always prepared to get around the table and talk with whoever, but not to continue the policies of the previous government. Up until now I have seen that we can’t find an agreement about anything. That is an observation”.