'If Vlaams Belang cleans its act, why not?': De Wever hints at Flemish nationalist coalition

'If Vlaams Belang cleans its act, why not?': De Wever hints at Flemish nationalist coalition
N-VA leader Bart De Wever and Vlaams Belang leader Tom Van Grieken in 2019. Credit: Belga / Dirk Waem

The leader of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA, Bart De Wever, would be more inclined to govern with the Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang (VB) than with the "communists" of the PTB-PVDA, he said in an interview with De Zondag on Sunday.

"If the communists are involved in the exercise of power, then my bags are packed," De Wever proclaimed. PTB-PVDA are the most left-wing party in the Belgian parliament but are not officially associated with communism.

When asked about governing with the far-right Flemish party, De Wever hinted there were grounds for a future coalition, as long as the far-right Flemish party changed its more extreme elements, and stopped attacking his own party. "If Vlaams Belang cleans up its act, then why not?”

“However, as long as the party tolerates extremists who insult and attack below the belt, it will put itself out of the game. The day the VB sets a credible course to stop this, then it will be able to govern, as far as I am concerned," the mayor of Antwerp elaborates.

Both N-VA and Vlaams Belang are proponents of Flemish nationalism from a right-wing perspective, but the conservative N-VA pushes for a moderate form of Flemish separatism, achieved through a policy of confederalism, while far-right Vlaams Belang rallies support through anti-immigration and anti-foreign sentiment.

Tolerance of antisemitism

According to De Wever, VB leader Tom Van Grieken is in a position to do change, but is not acting. “I really don’t understand why he continues to associate himself with Dries Van Langenhove. This man constantly pours out antisemitism, hatred towards women and professes his love for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin."

"Why do we continue to defend him? And he’s not the only extremist! You cannot govern with such people. That’s why I think that a vote for Vlaams Belang is a lost vote,” De Wever said. “If the voters want this Vlaams Belang in power, ok, but it will be without me."

The N-VA chairman also attacked his coalition partners in the Flemish Government, Open VLD and CD&V. “They came on board the federal Vivaldi coalition without a majority in Flanders. Take the Open VLD: how can you promise things at your party congress while doing the opposite in practice?"

The N-VA president continued: "Is there a single Flemish Christian Democrat who can give me a good reason why they joined the Vivaldi?

Earlier this month, De Wever said that after the 2024 elections he wanted to quickly set up a mini-cabinet with the PS, a proposal that the French-speaking socialists rejected. But the Flemish nationalist still believes that the N-VA can realise its confederalism project with the PS. "They won’t like it, but they will be forced into it by the impossibility of forming a government."

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