The breakdown of the majorities in place in Wallonia and Brussels may lead to the conclusion of new majority agreements or to political lethargy of our regional institutions until June 2019. Overview of certainties and probabilities and their impact in the business world.
The start, in September, of the new political year will be critical: without a new government installed, the announced breakdown will be casted into doubt. The political crisis would tend to settle permanently. We would be in ‘current affairs’ mode until 2019, the reforms initiated (aid to employment, taxation) would be stopped. Negotiators have little time to do useful work.
In October 2017, the last full-year budgets (2018) will be voted. This offers the last real opportunity to print concrete changes, only a few weeks remain.
It should not be ruled out that this tremor may lead to more significant movements of a tectonic nature, dissent, unions, even the transformation of the landscape with the emergence of new parties.
The political parties associated with the future majorities will present new personalities. They will do so by conscious choice – to embody the renewal of political life? They could also do so out of necessity to exclude personalities who do not present all guarantees of integrity.
In response to political scandals, the decumulation of mandates appears to be the unavoidable measure. Strong men (Paul Magnette, Maxime Prévot, Benoît Lutgen, Jean-Luc Crucke…) must make their choice, with the municipalities of 2018 in perspective.
Finally, the competencies will be redistributed within the new governments, more or less broadly. This means that for some specific files, the person of contact will change and that it will be necessary to resume the work of informing and conviction already achieved with the previous team.
Given the little time available, each party, each minister will focus on a very limited number of objectives. Whatever the new teams are, it can be assumed that each political group will negotiate from the outset. The score will be written and the margins of manoeuvre or renegotiation will be limited.
Given the reforms undertaken, the current situation and the operating forces, the ingredients are predictable: governance, ethics, citizen participation (urban planning), mobility, rationalization of economic tools, autonomy insurance, Education, everyone will want to carry a trophy to present themselves before the voters with a record.
It will therefore be essential to quickly identify and sensitize key representatives of each party, as well as to monitor developments closely, to avoid being caught short by a flash decision.
In style and practice, new ministers appointed will undoubtedly make a point of breaking the codes. The way of communicating, of receiving, of meeting, of acting will change, at least in appearance.The weakness of the budget margins and the short time available will concentrate the action on symbols. As a catalyst for poor governance, the heavy institutional structure of Francophones (regions, Wallonia-Brussels, Cocof, para-regional, para-municipal, provincial) should undergo substantial skimming. Region and commune will be reinforced as single poles of political decision.
A regional specificity, the electoral calendar is frozen. Except for the substitutes, members of parliament remain in place. In the event of a prolonged crisis, the parliament could even play a buffer role to deal with the most urgent measures (provisional budgets, organization of the new school year, extension of radio frequencies, etc.).
Regional administrations will obviously remain in place, but the strong politicization of its managers (mostly PS) could have a negative impact on the treatment of certain files.
Meanwhile, the federal government should stay its course until summer 2019.
Asymmetry (the federal French-speaking opposition formed part of the regional majorities) should partly fade, contributing to ease relations and tensions surrounding fiscal policy and some of the other reforms with a strong social impact.