Prime Minister van Rompuy had to endure a cascade of criticism from the opposition after they had learned of the Belgian Federal Government’s reshuffle plans on which agreement was reached last night. Sp.a leader Tobback accused van Rompuy of leading a “Government of failures and misfits which is unable to take serious policy actions, with van Rompuy as the biggest looser leading the group”.
The reshuffle, which has been rubberstamped by King Albert II this morning, follows the regional elections of last month and the departure of Foreign Affairs Minister Karel de Gucht who will replace Louis Michel as the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, after the latter was elected to the new European Parliament.
One could be forgiven for having thought that Yves Leterme’s political life was over after having failed to lead two Governments before the King finally accepted his resignation after he was accused of having influenced the judiciary on the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas. However, nothing should surprise you in Belgian politics and believe it or not but Leterme has now been appointed as Karel de Gucht’s successor, taking over the prestigious post of Minister of Foreign Affairs!
Another interesting appointment to the Federal Government is that of Michel “papa” Daerden. This Walloon Socialist acquired world fame through Youtube in 2006 after giving an interview to the press in a very “happy” mood, and is said to have been “dumped” into the Federal Government by the Walloon Government… Mr Daerden has been given the not too public portfolio of Minister of Pensions and the Big Cities.
Ah good old Belgian politics! It becomes clearer by the day that van Rompuy will not be the man taking Belgium out of its political deadlock. In the meantime, all the good politicians (and especially Guy Verhofstadt) are fleeing Belgian politics for European politics.