MR leader tries to diffuse tensions with Open VLD while remaining defensive

MR leader tries to diffuse tensions with Open VLD while remaining defensive
MR chairman Georges-Louis Bouchez. Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga.

Over the weekend, tensions between both liberal parties in government – the Flemish Open VLD and the French-speaking MR – continue to simmer. On Monday evening, the MR's President Georges-Louis Bouchez went on Flemish TV channel VRT to call for further cooperation between both parties, all while defending his constant criticism of the Federal Government.

After Alexia Bertrand left the French-speaking liberal party MR to replace Eva De Bleeker as Secretary of State for Budget, while crossing over to the Flemish liberals Open VLD, both liberal parties have attempted to dismiss talks of a rift between each other.

MR's President Georges-Louis Bouchez may have not got the memo, as he continued criticising the Federal Government, of which his party makes up the ruling coalition, over what he perceived to be recent political failures. Open VLD's President Egbert Lachaert had complained about last weekend.

On Monday though, to appease tensions, both parties published a joint statement in which they indicated the continuation of their "strong and solid relationship," all while explaining that "as in all families, differences may arise."

Georges-Louis Bouchez with Open VLD's president Egbert Lachaert. Credit: James Arthur Gekiere/Belga.

Bouchez continued by striking a seemingly conciliatory tone on VRT's 'Terzake' and reiterated his determination to collaborate more effectively and frequently with their Flemish counterparts.

However, the party president also indicated that his party would not be changing their tone when criticisng the Federal Government, as their party "wants to continue telling the truth in an aggressive manner" and added that "it is not our job to defend the government."

Furthermore, he concluded by lending his support to recently departed Budget Secretary Eva De Bleeker (Open VLD), who came under fire for misrepresenting Belgium's budgetary figures. "On a personal level, I would like to say that Eva De Bleeker has not deserved it," he said of the criticism she had come under.

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