With polls giving De Wever a lead of more than 35%, the race seems to be won for the nationalist, but this is not how Janssens sees things. Only people from outside Antwerp believe De Wever has already won, he says. He believes that his own SP.A can repeat the success of the last elections, with a result of around 35%.
In an interview with De Standaard, he marks out the differences between him and De Wever. The main one, according to Janssens: De Wever will do nothing for Antwerp, so that he can blame prime minister Elio Di Rupo. This echoes earlier attacks on the N-VA, whose ultimate goal is the independence of Flanders. A complete standstill would only be instrumental in this. N-VA’s role in the political crisis that Belgium went through before Di Rupo’s government got started seems to prove this theory right.
“I do not appeal to negativism,” Janssens says. Reaching out to disgruntled voters is a goldmine, the mayor says, but you can only do this as long as you do not bear any responsibility. With this, he hints at N-VA’s refusal to enter the federal government again. At the same time, he makes it impossible for De Wever not to become mayor of Antwerp, should he win. This option, attractive though it seems, makes it harder for De Wever to act on the national level the way he does now.
One thing is clear: Even with a challenger as formidable as De Wever, Janssens is as confident as ever. It is not the elections I fear, he says, it is the day after that worries me most. For that is one thing about elections in Belgium: They may look like a duel, but in the end coalitions have to be formed. Bitter campaigns make this much harder for political opponents. This makes the Antwerp elections even more interesting: Who will govern the city from 2013? Is an agreement between two resentful opponents possible?