Hilde Crevits official candidate as Flanders’ next minister-president

Summary

The Christian-democrat party CD&V has put forth education minister Hilde Crevits as its candidate for the post of minister-president of the Flemish region

One month to elections

Hilde Crevits, currently Flanders’ education minister, announced her candidacy for minister-president at a party congress at the weekend. The CD&V politician is going up directly against N-VA party chair Bart De Wever, who announced his intention to be the region’s next minister-president earlier this year.

Crevits (pictured) will lead the ballot list for the Christian-democrats in West Flanders on 26 May. That is the date of the regional as well as the federal and European elections in Belgium.

Like the federal and European elections, voters can choose either a party or a specific candidate from that party on their ballot. Doing the latter is known as submitting a preferential vote. While every province has its own list of candidates for the regional elections, these are brought together and assessed during the subsequent negotiation period.

Crevits also headed the list in West Flanders in the last regional election in 2014. At 122,557, she received nearly twice as many preferential votes as any other candidate of any party in the province. In the latest opinion poll, she was Flanders’ third most-popular politician, behind Bart De Wever and Theo Francken (N-VA).

Two official candidates

“We are putting an emphasis on quality of life for Flanders,” said CD&V party chair Wouter Beke in the weekend news programme De zevende dag. “That means a good, healthy and stress-free life. We have the right candidate for that. In Hilde Crevits, we have a vice-minister-president who has done a terrific job for five years, has 10 years of experience in the Flemish government and has a clear vision and positive attitude. And she also knows how to connect people.”

Outside of N-VA, no other party has announced a candidate for minister-president, largely because they do not expect the votes: In last week’s poll, N-VA was far ahead, with 28% of those polled in Flanders favouring the nationalists. CD&V was second most-popular party, at 14.7%.

De Wever, currently mayor of Antwerp, had nothing but good things to say about this new challenge. Crevits is “a very strong colleague who I very much value,” he said. “She is personable but also a very strong politician. We have always been able to work together very effectively. CD&V has made a strategic and logical choice to make her the face of the campaign.”

We support a hopeful and positive narrative for Flanders, with an emphasis on quality of life for every person

- Hilde Crevits

Crevits started her political career as a member of West Flanders’ provincial council before moving on to the Torhout city council in 2001. She was the city councillor in charge of public works, energy and the environment.

In 2007, she became Flemish minister of public works and the environment. Following the 2014 regional elections, she became Flanders’ education minister. Should Crevits be successful in her bid to become minister-president, she would be the first woman to hold the office.

“We support a hopeful and positive narrative for Flanders,” said Crevits in a speech at the congress in Genk, “a narrative with an emphasis on quality of life for every Flemish person. A narrative with an emphasis on opportunities, on ambition, on solutions. We are choosing a story on 26 May that does not exclude people, but includes all people – that’s what we stand for.”

Crevits went on to say that priorities for CD&V are a guaranteed minimum pension of €1,500 a month, the creation of more than 200,000 jobs, some 3,500 more kilometres of cycle lanes and further investment in education and health care.

Photo: Yorick Jansens/BELGA