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The loneliness of Jean-Marc Nollet in the middle of Paul Magnette and Georges-Louis Bouchez: “I had pain in the eardrum, I wondered what it was for”

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  • Reading time:4 mins read

The chin tucked into the chest, the eyes lost in the void, the dangling hands… Jean-Marc Nollet looked quite desperate on Wednesday evening on the set of QR. For this program, the RTBF had managed to bring together the six presidents of the French-speaking parties for a beautiful session of cacophony.

The day after the agreement on the budget, the subjects which annoy were approached: taxation of the surplus profits, fight against unemployment, indexation of the wages and purchasing power. It was during this chapter that Georges-Louis Bouchez and Paul Magnette, respectively presidents of the MR and the PS, were torn apart in an outpouring of counter-arguments.

“Mr. Magnette’s solution is to tax capital”says Bouchez. “There is one thing that must be done. He is the mayor, he must know it. Today, there are not enough people working in our country. We have employment rates in Wallonia. ..”

A criticism that Magnette did not want to pass up. “We are doing everything to increase the employment rate!” The debate then ignited, without respecting speaking time.

Sacha Daout did try to calm the two Hénuiers, but the facilitator’s interventions seemed quite useless in the face of the boiling. “If you hope that Mr. Bouchez answers the questions, you are off to a bad start!” “I don’t need your contempt, Monsieur Magnette.”

Seated – wedged rather – between the two red-blue belligerents, the green leader suddenly seemed very dejected. “I was upset,” he tells us. “At that moment, I had a thought for the spectators. I said to myself: ‘But what image are we giving of politics?’ I saw Paul trying to answer during Georges-Louis was shouting in my ear. My eardrum almost hurt.”

This image has not escaped viewers, talk show goers and political commentators. Thursday evening, a screenshot showing Nollet drained of his will in the middle of the two lions turned into a meme.

The small political sphere of Belgian Twitter had a field day.

The tasty “caricaturist” Coucou Charles did not hesitate to hijack the video.

Journalist Alain Gerlache noted that there were “one who seems to perceive the extent to which the fights between the French-speaking parties of the majority discredit the Vivaldi.”

This is confirmed by the person concerned. “I wondered what it was for. Not journalistic work, but this way of debating. However, I had prepared for it. I had already had two face-to-face encounters with Georges-Louis Bouchez and I know that you have to control yourself to stay calm. The problem is that it deteriorates the conditions of the debate. It deteriorates the possibility of having a democratic debate.”

Even the host Sachat Daout returned to the show in a paper for Moustique. “I also said to myself that the citizens must finally regret that certain enmities block essential political progress. While we argue in the majority, we take few or no decisions.”

Inevitably, we asked the question to the co-president: are the debates within Vivaldi as tense as on set? In other words, does this explain why the federal government gives the impression of not knowing how to move forward? “Within the government, there are no cameras, there are far fewer shows and there is no Bouchez”continues Jean-Marc Nollet, who describes the liberal as populist. “Look how he’s always looking for the divide. He talks like he knows everything and the others don’t know anything, like they’re assholes.”

“It must be difficult for [élus MR] like David Clarinval and Sophie Wilmès”attacks the Carolo environmentalist. “I also receive a lot of messages from liberal representatives who are sorry for the attitude of their president. And it’s a shame because it damages the image of politics. However, I deeply believe in politics. I fight for politics. But what is happening today – and I talk about it in my book – are the reasons why I decided to take a step back from social networks.”

After the debate, came the hangover. “After the show, I was not well”confesses Jean-Marc Nollet.