On Thursday, the federal parliament ended its last session before the May elections. Whatever result that election returns, one in five of the members sitting yesterday will not be returning for the new session. Among those who have announced their departure is Eric Van Rompuy, brother of the former prime minister and president of the European Council Herman. Van Rompuy is in his own right a highly regarded parliamentarian, representative of his home town of Zaventem and chair of the house finance committee. He now retires at the age of 69 from politics altogether.
One federal minister has announced his intention to quit. Philippe De Backer is somewhat Minister for Everything Else in the federal government, responsible for post and telecommunications, social fraud, privacy, the digital agenda and the North Sea. A doctor in biotechnology, he returns to business life.
As well as the federal elections, votes will take place later in May for regional and European elections. Regional elections see the departure of Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois to the European Parliament, to be replaced in Place des Martyres by party boss Bart De Wever. In Brussels region, finance and employment minister Didier Gosuin is quitting politics altogether, as is former Brussels minister-president Charles Picqué, now president of the parliament.
Picqué’s counterpart in the Flemish parliament, the often outspoken Jan Peumans, offers his support to the tail-end of a list for N-VA, where he is certain not to be elected for a seat in the Flemish parliament. Peumans (photo) of late has shown certain differences of opinion with his party’s stance, and his departure will likely coincide with the arrival at the head of the Flemish government with nominal party colleague Bart De Wever.
The Brussels parliament will see a 35% renewal rate thanks to members standing down. In Flanders the attrition losses amount to 14%, and the federal parliament to 16%. In Wallonia, 21% will not stand again, while Belgian MEPs are standing down at a rate of only 14%.