Alain Destexhe, a member of the Brussels parliament and the Senate and a veteran member of the conservative party MR, has quit the party and set up his own right-wing party which he has described as “a sort of francophone N-VA”. Destexhe announced his departure in an interview with La Libre and La Dernière Heure, as well as his intention to create a new party, provisionally called Liste Destexhe. He called on supporters to join him to campaign for seats in the three elections in May – for the regions, the federal parliament and the European Parliament.
Already he has been joined by Walloon regional deputy André-Pierre Puget, entrepreneur and former MR candidate Laurence Genot and former MR member Benoît Legros.
“The citizens of Wallonia and Brussels no longer recognise themselves in today’s politics on immigration, good governance, nuclear issues, public spending,” he said. “In my view, the recent positions taken by MR mean there is no representation in francophone Belgium for the centre-right and classical right wing currents. That is the point of my decision.”
The breaking point came, he said, with the decision by his party and by MR prime minister Charles Michel to support the United Nations pact on migration – precisely the decision which pushed N-VA to leave the government coalition.
The official response from the party came from spokesperson Christophe Cordier: “We learned the news from the press this morning. The statutes of MR are clear: the fact of standing for election on a competing list signifies that the person is resigning voluntarily.”
La Libre, however, reports that the party machinery spent most of the day on Tuesday trying to contact Destexhe to change his mind. At that time the interview had taken place but the paper had not yet published. Until the last minute, the paper reports, the party thought Destexhe was trying to put pressure on in order to gain a better place for himself on the election list.
Destexhe, born in 1958, is of dual Belgian and Rwandan nationality, and graduated in medicine from Liege university before spending several years working for the organisation Doctors without Borders. He was first elected to the old-style Senate in 1995, and to the Brussels parliament in 2004. He has published several books, including one in English on the Rwandan genocide.