Flemish government in deep crisis after failed nitrogen negotiations

The Flemish government is in deep crisis after failed nitrogen negotiations. The governing parties N-VA (Flemish Nationalists), Open VLD (Liberals) and CD&V (Christian democrats) failed this weekend again to force a breakthrough in the nitrogen dossier that has been deadlocked for weeks. Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) blamed CD&V for stubbornly continuing to say no to every proposal, but the Christian Democrats say it is up to Jambon to provide a solution.

NVA and VLD have accepted the proposal but CD&V cannot agree with it because according to them it would offer too little future to young farmers. The crisis makes that the discussion is shifting to the future of the government. Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) thinks CD&V should accept the latest proposal for a nitrogen agreement or leave the government.


'Two of the three governing parties have accepted the proposal,' Jambon said. 'So there is no unanimity but a broad majority in favour of that proposal. Consequently, the concept note has been approved.'

What now?

The only way to bring down the Flemish government is to immediately appoint another one. The constitution makes it impossible for the Flemish government to dissolve itself and announce early elections. With the current distribution of seats, appointing a new government is difficult. Suppose Vooruit (socialists) replaced CD&V, the government would only have one seat in surplus in parliament. This means that in votes, each MP would thus have a de facto veto right. Such a thing is undesirable.

The other option is for the government to remain in place. They can then continue looking for an agreement or table the proposal in the Flemish parliament without the support of ruling party CD&V. Both Vooruit and Groen (Green party) already pledged their support for the plans from the opposition. But both of these options saddle the Flemish government with serious image problems. Whether it can then function until May 2024, when the next elections are due, remains to be seen.

CD&V minister of Agriculture Jo Brouns does not yet want to comment on a possible alternating majority with the opposition parties on this dossier: ‘We will have to see what that means. If the dossier comes up for a vote in parliament, we will see what happens there, but for us it is clear that it has to be a consensual decision within the government.’


#FlandersNewsService | Flemish farmers with their tractors gather in Brussels, to protest against proposed new rules to reduce nitrogen emissions, on Friday 03 March 2023. © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT



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