Peeters will head Antwerp list in 2018 elections


Federal work minister Kris Peeters is moving to Antwerp to take the top spot on the CD&V list, head-to-head with the city's mayor, Bart De Wever


Kris Peeters, the former minister-president of Flanders now serving as federal minister of work and consumer affairs, has accepted his party’s nomination to lead the CD&V list in Antwerp for the 2018 municipal elections. The decision puts him in direct opposition to Bart De Wever (N-VA), the incumbent mayor.

Peeters will now move house, from Puurs to Antwerp. Former Flemish energy minister Annemie Turtelboom made the same move in 2012, when she led the list in Antwerp for Open Vld.

“If we want visibility for CD&V in Antwerp during the election campaign, then we need a national figure as list-leader,” explained Ariane Van Dooren, chair of the Antwerp branch of the party. “The name that was regularly put forward by our members was Kris Peeters. His profile matches our vision of how politics needs to be done in Antwerp.”

Peeters’ successor as Flemish minister-president, Geert Bourgeois, is a party colleague of De Wever and expressed surprise at the decision. “I’ve never known Kris Peeters to be concerned with the local level,” he told VRT. “The people of Antwerp will decide. The N-VA have a very good mayor there.”

According to CD&V president Wouter Beke, the focus on Antwerp does not signify the disappearance of Kris Peeters from the wider stage. After the municipal elections in 2018, the party will call on him for the Flemish and federal elections.

Peeters’ move to Antwerp is a means of helping the party gain some visibility in the light of its low polling figures in the port city, Beke said. Wresting the mayoral sash from De Wever is not a goal in itself; Peeters’ presence will, the party hopes, help raise its profile further down the chain.

“I know very well what the risks are, and that the bar has been set very high,” Peeters said.  “I am going to give my all for Antwerp and for the campaign once it gets going.”

CD&V last held city hall in Antwerp in 1976, when Leo Delwaide took over as mayor when socialist mayor Lode Craeybeckx died. The last time anyone from the party actually became mayor after an election was in 1921.

Photo, from left: Geert Bourgeois, Bart De Wever and Kris Peeters following the 2014 election

©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA