'A surprise for me too': Former Miss Belgium to run in June elections

'A surprise for me too': Former Miss Belgium to run in June elections
Julie Taton was crowned Miss Belgium in 2003. Credit: Belga / Peter De Voecht

A former Miss Belgium has entered the world of politics, announcing her candidature for the federal elections in June.

Julie Taton has been named the Mouvement Reformateur (MR) party's second candidate in the Walloon province Hainaut, behind party leader Georges-Louis Bouchez. Taton will leave her current position as NRJ television host from Monday.

The 39-year-old shot to fame when she won Miss Belgium in 2003, aged 18. Following a successful career in the media, Taton says she now wants to enter politics on behalf of children with long-term illnesses – her own son suffers from a disability.

"It's a rare disease which requires many speech therapy sessions. Many families can't afford that," she said. "I also chose MR because I've been self-employed for nearly 15 years and it's very difficult to set up projects in Belgium, so things need to change there too."

Bouchez announced her candidature enthusiastically on social media, celebrating a "committed woman, entrepreneur and iconic Belgian media personality."

A game of chess

Taton will run as a candidate in Hainaut despite the fact she lives in Rhode-Saint-Genèse, a commune on the outskirts of Brussels. It will be a tough contest, with a high concentration of heavy-weight candidates there: MPs and former Ministers Marie-Christine Marghem and Denis Ducarme, Minister Adrien Dolimont, MP and mayor of Courcelles Caroline Taquin, and Bouchez himself.

MR currently holds five seats: three in the Federal Government, and two at the regional level. The number of valuable party members exceeds the number of seats available meaning the group will have to be divided as strategically as possible between the federal and regional elections.

Bouchez hopes that Taton's high profile will help the party. She is not the first celebrity candidate Bouchez has announced in recent weeks: former drummer and radio presenter Mark Ysaye's was also just entered for MR. The 70-year-old will run for election in the Walloon-Brabant region and Bouchez says his membership is key in the fight against "woke".

Unexpected on both sides

Liberal party members speaking anonymously to La Dernière Heure expressed disdain at Taton's segway into politics. "Can you imagine Julie Taton in the Chamber?" One complained. "What's she going to do there? She has zero IQ."

The celebrity-turned-politician acknowledges that the career change is unusual. "No-one was expecting this. It's a surprise for me too," she said at a press conference on Friday.

"I'm about to turn 40. That's a milestone in your life. For my 40th birthday, I wanted to do something a little enjoyable. I wasn't expecting politics at all."

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