Jan Jambon to be new minister-president of Flanders

Summary

The former federal security minister will take over further negotiations to form a new Flemish government

‘More selective’ policy for foreigners

Jan Jambon (N-VA) will serve as Flanders’ next minister-president, following Geert Bourgeois’ five-year term, which ended last month. The decision was announced yesterday as N-VA party chair Bart De Wever sent a startnota to two other parties in the ongoing negotiations to form a new administration.

The next Flemish government will be a continuation of the so-called Swedish Coalition of N-VA, Open VLD and CD&V. As the chair of the party with the most votes in the regional election of 26 May, De Wever has been acting as informateur, the first person in charge of talks to form a new coalition government.

De Wever finished that job yesterday, with the announcement that the next phase, that of the formateur, will be taken over by Jambon (pictured). The latter will also serve as the region’s new minister-president.

Flanders must ‘look upwards’

De Wever had announced early this year that he saw himself in the role but has apparently changed his mind. He will remain the mayor of Antwerp, a post he was re-appointed to last year.

Jambon, 59, has been with N-VA since 2006, though in the 1980s he was active with the Volksunie, the party that eventually became N-VA. He is known as one of the party’s staunchest nationalists, with the conviction that Flanders’ future is as a confederalist state.

Jambon has been the mayor of Brasschaat since 2013 and was the federal security and interior minister in the previous federal government. That post was taken over by Pieter De Crem (CD&V) following N-VA’s walk-out last December.

Flanders must remain an inviting and social community, but social policies must become stricter and more selective

- Formateur Jan Jambon

“We are beginning the next phase of negotiations immediately,” said Jambon at a press conference yesterday. “As formateur, it’s my goal to create a government accord that sees Flanders looking upwards, literally and figuratively. Flanders must excel, but when I say look upwards, I also mean to the north-western part of Europe – the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries.”

He went on to point out those countries’ successful integration of immigrants, as well as excellent education systems and low unemployment rates. “In terms of social benefits, we need to raise the threshold for newcomers,” said Jambon. “Flanders must remain an inviting and social community, but social policies must become stricter and more selective.”

Fellow party member Liesbeth Homans is holding the post of minister-president temporarily, following Bourgeois’ departure to take up his new seat in the European parliament.

Photo: Benoit Doppagne/BELGA