Raoul Hedebouw presents his ideas for “Switch” and uses Swiss and Luxembourg examples: the president of the PTB explains himself

Raoul Hedebouw presents his ideas for “Switch” and uses Swiss and Luxembourg examples: the president of the PTB explains himself

Raoul Hedebouw, the president of the Labor Party of Belgium, has just released a book “Fais le Switch”. 184 pages written in collaboration with a few colleagues. He talks about mobility, housing, health and digital. Our journalist and presenter Christophe Deborsu questioned him on the subject.

Christophe Deborsu: You talk about a lot of subjects in “Fais le Switch” […] You suggest leads based on existing, very concrete examples. Take the case of mobility. You say “Luxembourgers have introduced free public transport and it’s not a country of gauchos, why wouldn’t we do it in Belgium?”. You will be told that it is because there is no more money. This is what the PS and Ecolo say when they are asked the question on this set. You think that despite the fact that Belgium is in great financial difficulty, we have to move towards that.

Raoul Hedebouw: But it is wrong to say that there is no money in Belgium. We have never had so many rich people in Belgium as today. There are more millionaires every year. Tens of thousands more millionaires over the past ten years. It makes no sense. We have to get the money where it is to activate our economy.

Christophe Deborsu: Is it the famous millionaire tax?

Raoul Hedebouw: The millionaires’ tax, setting up a public investment bank which will mobilize the savings of Belgians, etc. But free public transport, when Luxembourgers put it in place, why do they put it in place? Because it is an alternative for people. To be able to have quality transport. Because it’s not just about free. Luxembourgers have also invested in punctuality, in the additional supply of buses and trains. This is the alternative today. Me, I’m a little tired of people always pointing fingers individually, saying “It’s your fault that you take the car”, “It’s your fault that you overheat yourself at home” . Always the fault of the individual. No, there is a systemic response that we must provide, and politicians must take their responsibilities. For that, the PTB is not a party of “there is only to”, the PTB is a party of proposal. Which political party is writing a book today with dozens of concrete proposals that can be applied?

Christophe Deborsu: All. Paul Magnette has just done it, Jean-Marc Nollet did it a few months ago.

Raoul Hedebouw: With concrete proposals?

Christophe Deborsu: I assure you that it is.

Raoul Hedebouw: This is the debate that must be had. Today we have these proposals. And I say to the PS and to Ecolo, because I don’t expect anything from the MR. Georges-Louis Bouchez rolls for the rich, that’s clear. But on the side of the left-wing parties, what are we waiting for to set up… We take Luxembourg, but also Switzerland, in terms of scheduled train times. We will take examples from everywhere. We have to get out of the blinders, but we have to have concrete solutions today. That’s why the success with this “Make the Switch” campaign, because people were waiting for this response from the PTB.

Christophe Deborsu: Is the big switch communist? In the book, you give examples of major switches in the history of Belgium. The big switches are the big changes, so to speak. You say this: “1921, the 8-hour day was introduced. In 1936, workers finally had the right to paid holidays. In 1945, social security came out of the ground”. I note, however, that the Communist Party was never part of the government. The 8 hours were instituted by the socialist Joseph Wauters in 1921. The government was a Catholic-Liberal-Socialist tripartite. Paid leave is also the work of these three traditional parties, with the government led by Paul Van Zeeland, a Catholic, in the middle. It was in July 1936. Social security created by these same three parties. Don’t we need communists to make big reforms?

Raoul Hedebouw: But you can’t analyze all these reforms, I’m going to talk about social security, without the strength of the resistance in Belgium and the communists in the Belgian resistance.

Christophe Deborsu: It existed, of course.

Raoul Hedebouw: She was strong. With the influence of France, where it was a communist minister who had built social security. In Belgium, the communist movement has always been weaker. And that can be discussed historically. But the idea of ​​the fear of the red, because that was it: the employers panicking because the reds were in Berlin, obviously that played a role. But I agree with you, it must be possible to build with other parties. The Popular Front in France was able to set up paid holidays. I am reaching out to other political forces. The difference, of course, is that these parties, under this popular pressure, wanted to get out of the box. That’s the question of the switch. Today, parties like the PS and Ecolo remain within the framework of liberalism. Look who voted for the liberalization of the energy sector in Belgium? The PS, Ecolo, CDH and the MR.

Christophe Deborsu: The sector has always been liberalized.

Raoul Hedebouw: No, but there was a liberalization in 99-2000, you know that yourself. On this side, the traditional parties, including on the left, play by the rules of the capitalist system. I think we have to get out of it.

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