The political world has been reacting to the expulsion of Saint-Josse mayor Emir Kir from the French-speaking socialist party PS.
Kir was expelled on Friday following a controversial meeting with a delegation of Turkish mayors, which included two from the right-wing ultra-nationalist MHP party. He was also accused of having paid his respects to an MHP mayor on a recent trip to Turkey.
PS president Paul Magnette was unapologetic about the expulsion. While the decision was made by the disciplinary committee of the Brussels federation of the party, he said he had noted the result. “This sanction is a result of the failure to respect the cordon sanitaire,” he said. “For the PS, respect [of the cordon] applies to all elected representatives of the extreme right, whoever they may be and wherever they may come from.”
Meanwhile at Kir’s home base of Saint-Josse, where in the past he has been a major vote-winner for the PS, the members of his communal electoral list expressed their continuing support in a statement.
“We, the elected socialists of the Mayor’s List of Saint-Josse, reaffirm our full and complete support for our mayor, Emir Kir, who has always been a man of the left in his political engagement and his actions,” the statement said. That position, however, could bring them in turn into conflict with the PS.
One colleague, both on the municipal council and in the Brussels parliament, Emin Özkara, announced he would henceforth be sitting as an independent in both forums, in sympathy with Kir. His decision, together with Kir’s ejection from the party, reduced the PS numbers in the Brussels parliament to 16 members, compared to 15 for Ecolo and 13 for MR. Kir himself, despite losing his party whip, can carry on sitting as mayor of Saint-Josse so long as he has the support of enough of his (former) colleagues.
And Kir’s ousting could also have an unintended knock-on effect on the talks to form a new federal government. As well as mayor and member of the Brussels parliament, Kir is also a member of the federal parliament. One of the possible routes to a government is the so-called rainbow coalition of socialists, conservatives and greens, known in Dutch as purple-green. But with Kir out of the PS, the numbers of those parties remaining come to 75 out of a total of 150 – no majority, in other words.