The growing buzz around the possible nomination of Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy as future President of the European Council has revived old community ghosts and fears of another long political deadlock for Belgium.
A majority of Belgian people (even among the Francophones) are flattered and honoured that a Belgian politician may eventually become the first permanent President of the European Council, but at the same time, everybody is wondering what will happen to Belgium.
In TV reports, you can hear people saying “For once we had stability, but now he’s going to leave” and asking “who will replace him?”
For Flemish politicians, the answer is simple and obvious. Yves Leterme. Indeed, the current Belgian Foreign Minister and Prime Minister twice in the past seems to be the front runner to replace Mr Rompuy.
But for the Francophones, this is not good news. According to a recent poll, 61% of them think that the return of Mr Leterme will threaten the future of Belgium. Other Francophone politicians are calling for another General Election or even trying to bumble Mr Van Rompuy’s candidacy by stating he is not suited for the post as his political party refuses to ratify the convention of the Council of Europe on the protection of minorities… Francophone paranoia? Belgian Thriller ? Who knows ?
Van Rompuy knows that if he takes up the post of EU Council President this will mean another crisis. The debate is therefore much less about the next EU President and much more about the next Belgian Prime Minister. Van Rompuy? Leterme? Verhofstadt? Dehaene? Keyser Söze ? The usual suspects! As you can see there are nearly as many candidates for this position as for the EU job!