At the end of last November, two Vlaams Belang politicians, Filip Dewinter and Anke Van dermeersch, sported the senatorial sash, during an award ceremony in China. Their decision to do so has angered the President of the Senate, Christine Defraigne (MR), with La Libre Belgique reporting the facts on Friday. Photos of the event, show the two far-right politicians were present during the ceremony seemingly on behalf of the Belgian Senate, although the Senate had no connection with the artistic award concerned, which was linked to a foundation based in Antwerp.
One of the deputies affected is Filip Dewinter. He is no longer a senator but is a federal deputy. In an exchange of letters between Christigne Defraigne and Filip Dewinter the former reminded the latter that, by publicly attributing a title which he did not actually hold to himself, he had infringed the Belgian Criminal Code.
In the letters between the two elected representatives, the President of the Senate also invoked the Senate Code of Conduct. She said, “Article 3 stipulates that members of the Senate may only use their title for activities connected to the exercise of their mandate.”
La Libre Belgique considers in the case of Anke Van dermeersch, a former Miss Belgium, the incident is surprising to the extent that she had openly stated, some years ago, that she “favoured the abolition of the Senate.” She then considered that “the bicameral system makes no sense.”