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Political drama

It looks like our prime minister's time is finally up. I have always thought that Yves Leterme had a tin ear for the highest politics; it now turns out that he doesn't quite grasp either the principle of separation of powers, or telling the truth.

If he goes, as I think he must in the course of today or tomorrow, I think he will be the first actual head of government in Europe to lose his job because of the financial crisis. And weirdly, it's not because of the crisis itself, but because of the way he handled it. Several months back, a bailout plan was devised for Fortis (which happens to be my own bank); it was to be sold to the French, specifically to BNP Paribas. Last week, a Belgian court ruled that the transaction would have to be suspended for two months pending consultations with existing Fortis shareholders. Not especially good news for BNP Paribas (or for the bailout plan), but there we are; the courts are independent and make their own ruling.

Or are they? It seems that Leterme's office, and Leterme himself, was in contact with the judges in advance of the court decision. Granted, the decision they made was not the one Leterme wanted, but the perception that the prime minister was attempting to interfere in the judicial process is hugely damaging. What is worse is that Leterme's story kept changing over the course of the day yesterday: he wrote a letter to his own Minister of Justice laying out a chronology of his contacts with the court, which was then contradicted by other evidence and then indeed by his own account; he stunned the Belgian parliament yesterday by reading out correspondence between the Minister of Justice and the wife of one of the judges from his Blackberry. His coalition partners are threatening to revolt against the government, and the murmurings from within his own party are gathering pace.

And I see in the news just now that BNP Paribas has pulled out of the Fortis deal. I think that seals Leterm's fate.

As luck would have it, I have an appointment this afternoon downtown in the Belgian parliament. An interesting day to be there, I suspect!

Edited to add: Not very surprisingly, my meeting was cancelled. And the prime minister is still there.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 18th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
I see your point, but... do you think the Dáil would be "stunned"? "Warming up in anticipation of another good brawl" would be my bet.
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
"stunned"? No. More like "wonder where this load of shit will land" and before you know ti someone is on the telly, begging the country to understand the niceties of 'mature recollection.'
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
You might take a cardboard box along as an act of seasonal charity - sounds like there is at least one person down there who will need one to clean out their desk.
Dec. 18th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
Would that we could have got rid of Tony Blair for his own interferences with the judicial process.
Dec. 18th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
I'd tuned in around 3:30, idly wondering what all the fuss was, then understanding from the commentary that they were waiting for the parliament to begin its sitting - meaning, waiting for Leterme.... mind, I'm not Belgian (at least, not yet) but after sitting another ten minutes, I was ready to yell at the tv, "YVES! Get your sorry-ass lying carcass into the chamber so your colleagues get their chance to SPANK you!"

I mean, really.

Crazy(it's a wonder dear_hubby wants to live with a crank like me)Soph

PS just reminded myself to turn on the TV again, and.... blargh!! the PM still hasn't deigned to appear in the chambers. Goodness, how long is he going to manage this?

PPS Bart Somers as the next PM? (Nah, I know, I'm just stirring it, now.)

Edited at 2008-12-18 04:39 pm (UTC)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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