Bart De Wever announces intention to become minister-president


Should N-VA rule the regional elections in May, Bart De Wever will leave his post of mayor of Antwerp to become the minister-president

Surprise announcement

Bart De Wever is ready to become minister-president of Flanders following the elections in May. The mayor of Antwerp called a surprise press conference today to announce N-VA’s ambitions for the regional and federal elections, which take place, together with the European elections, on 26 May.

Should N-VA dominate the elections as it did in 2012, party president De Wever (pictured) sees himself taking over the role of minister-president from his party colleague Geert Bourgeois. For his part, Bourgeois would represent Belgium at the European level.

And Jan Jambon, federal security and interior minister before N-VA quit the federal government coalition last month, has his sights set on the office of prime minister. The three men will lead the party’s regional, European and federal lists, respectively, in their provinces.

‘Defend the stronghold’

De Wever only just formed a coalition city council in Antwerp in late December, following the local elections of October. “I have been saying for the last two weeks that I wanted to remain mayor as long as the voter agreed to it,” said De Wever. “That is indeed what the person Bart De Wever wants. But that’s in conflict with the party president, who must put other interests first.”

N-VA’s timing has everything to do with the French socialists’ announcement at the weekend that they were going to “reconquer” Belgian politics. “PS intends to make a play for power,” said De Wever, “which reminds us of the economic ravage that took place when Françoise Hollande took over from Sarkozy.”

N-VA, he continued would “defend the Flemish stronghold” should PS indeed gain ground in May. “Our answer to PS is confederalism.” This is a reference to the regions having even more jurisdiction in Belgium than they do now.

A question De Wever has not yet addressed publicly is who would become mayor of Flanders’ biggest city should he leave the post to become minister-president.

Photo: Dirk Waem/BELGA