Flemish Health and Welfare Minister Wouter Beke resigns

Flemish Health and Welfare Minister Wouter Beke resigns
Flemish Health Minsiter Wouter Beke. Credit: Belga

Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke will resign from his position as Minister in the Flemish Government, he announced during an unexpected press conference on Thursday.

Beke took the decision after consultation with the leadership of the Flemish Christian-democratic CD&V party, which had met on Thursday to prepare for tonight's party council meeting.

"Today is my last day as Flemish Minister of Welfare and Public Health," announced Beke. He added that he managed to achieve important things within the Flemish Government in recent years, "even if they hardly made the newspapers."

Beke has been under fire for quite some time because of his approach in the residential care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, malpractices in child daycare facilities, the cutbacks in child allowances and several difficulties within the Flemish Government.

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Many of the achievements "have been pushed into the background by the coronavirus," Beke said. "I am most proud of the vaccination campaign that we steered in the right direction and that put Flanders on the world map."

"But the death of a baby in Mariakerke hit me very hard. My family and friends have been able to experience how heavy this has weighed on me," he added. "Many things have been written that have touched me. Dear journalists, politicians are only human too."

Beke submitted his resignation this afternoon, as he is "convinced that this is better, and that our party deserves better." He stressed that he is also quitting to "give oxygen to the new chairman," and that he "fully supports" chairman candidate Sammy Mahdi.

"I am not a cold-hearted power-hungry politician. My integrity as a politician, human being, husband and father is more important to me than all the rest," Beke added. "More important than what has been written about me in the media over the past two and a half years. My wife, family and co-workers, have kept me going."

Last weekend, Joachim Coens also announced his departure as the party's chairman. "I understand Wouter Beke's choice . I regret how things turned out. Welfare is an important department, where much has been achieved. Thanks Wouter."

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