May 1 will be full of electoral jousts and muscle flexing (Brussels)

May 1 will be full of electoral jousts and muscle flexing (Brussels)
May 1 will be full of electoral jousts and muscle flexing (Brussels)
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Working Belgians should be better rewarded, that is the mantra of the socialist party Vooruit. Chairman Melissa Depraetere argued in Ghent on Tuesday evening for a minimum wage of 2,500 euros – which in concrete terms amounts to 15 euros per hour. On Wednesday in Ostend, she also added the proposal to allow people who start working early to retire earlier. “Anyone who starts at the age of eighteen can stop at the age of sixty with a full pension. Because anyone who has worked for 42 years has fully earned his rest.”

The French-speaking socialists of the PS went one step further. They also previously proposed an increase in the minimum wage – from 2,000 euros to no less than 2,800 euros. On Wednesday they swore an expensive oath. “I make a solemn promise here: if we enter a government, we will increase wages. And if the others do not want to do that, it will be without the Socialists,” said PS chairman Paul Magnette during a meeting of party militants in Charleroi.

Brussels

Striking: in the same breath, the socialist leaders added an unmistakable sneer at the other parties. “The far right promises us heaven on earth, but they do not tell us that they are going to send everyone through hell first,” said Depraetere. She called on those present not to be fooled into thinking that a higher pension is not possible.

The PS warned of a “right-wing havoc”, which could be approaching now that Christian Democrats and liberals appear to be forming an axis. “It is against this that we have to fight on June 9.”

The same in Brussels, where party leader for the Brussels parliament Ahmed Laaouej (PS) warned of a social bloodbath if the MR comes to power and implements his dreamed restructuring policy – dixit the socialist. “The MR does not hide its ambitions and admits its color: blue. Not the blue of a sunny summer morning with a few rays of sunshine shining through, but the ice-cold blue of an austere policy, the cold blue of an index jump and heavy cuts in healthcare, and the selfish blue that reduced the VAT on gas and electricity from 6 to 21 percent, but fortunately the socialists brought it back to 6 percent,” said Laaouej at the Maison du Peuple in Saint-Gilles.

Brexit

In Antwerp, Vooruit Minister Caroline Gennez talked about “a lot of blablabla” from “the extremes, right and left”, and patted herself on the back about the past federal government participation. Vooruit also wants to govern in Flanders, according to Gennez.

Former chairman Conner Rousseau, who recently made his comeback as a list pusher in East Flanders, also gave a speech in Sint-Niklaas. He opened up another register, sketching a doomsday scenario if the country is split. “I am very concerned about Tom Van Grieken (chairman of Vlaams Belang, ed.) I hear it said that he is putting the division of Belgium back on the table.”

Rousseau makes the comparison with Brexit, the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. “The far right promised that splitting, tearing away from Europe, would be good for the worker, for healthcare and for the economy. But after ten years of palaver, it has what it wants: decline for workers, decline for healthcare and an economy that is worse off.”

Conner Rousseau (Forward) — © BELGA

It is no longer just socialists who celebrate Labor Day. The Liberals like to present themselves as the party for working people. On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) made this concrete for his party: Open VLD wants working people to build up 500 euros more pension than people who do not work. The Liberals are thus expanding an earlier proposal under which working people must always earn 500 euros more than non-working people. “That’s just fair,” he said.

Balloons

De Croo also joined in the electoral bidding, by lashing out at almost all other parties. He criticized what he described as “senseless proposals” from N-VA, Vooruit, Groen, PS and CD&V. De Croo, among other things, criticized N-VA’s proposal to build prisons in Kosovo.

“We launched our growth plan but we are still waiting for the figures from the other parties. They are of course very busy with duo interviews and forging coalitions, and saying who can and cannot participate after the elections,” said De Croo, who called on the others to stop releasing all kinds of balloons and with a “serious plan”.

Batman

However, the uncrowned king of political jousts is Georges-Louis Bouchez (MR), chairman of the French-speaking liberals. He accused his coalition partners PS and Ecolo of “doing nothing but supporting Raoul (Hedebouw, PVDA chairman, ed.) to walk”. Last month, MR had to accept a variable majority in the French Community from coalition partners PS and Ecolo with PVDA on an adjustment to the ‘decret paysage’, which regulates the financing of higher education. A démarche that was labeled as “treason” by the MR.

Bouchez (l.) and De Croo (r.)

Bouchez (l.) and De Croo (r.) — © BELGA

Bouchez joked that Hedebouw, Magnette and Ecolo co-chairman Jean-Marc Nollet should follow a “detax cure”, referring to the Liberals’ proposal to increase the tax-free amount to the amount of the lowest social benefits. Finally, he called on his fellow party members to have confidence, “the confidence of a four-year-old wearing a Batman costume. He is not afraid.”

Policy

Afraid is a word that PVDA and Vlaams Belang currently do not know. According to the polls, the extreme parties are heading for gains in the elections, and they are also fully committed to purchasing power for the working class. It is striking that the social program of PVDA and Vlaams Belang is largely the same, with the major differences being that Vlaams Belang wants to protect “our” social security from “foreigners”, and PVDA wants to burden the richest with their well-known “millionaire tax”.

Van Grieken (Vlaams Belang) also handed out sneers at the others, calling the Walloons “holiday ponies” and “Kabouter Lui”, and Vooruit chairman Melissa Depraetere “Kabouter Kwebbel”. But it was mainly newcomers who suffered. Raoul Hedebouw (PVDA) emphasized that a vote for his party is not a wasted vote, because he certainly has the ambition to participate in the policy.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: full electoral jousts muscle flexing Brussels

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