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New liberal party president says no to Vlaams Belang

Belgium's Federal Parliament. Credit: Belga

Egbert Lachaert, the new president of Flemish liberal party Open VLD, has ruled out a government with far-right party Vlaams Belang, he told Belgian news company LN24 on Monday.

“I don’t see how, in terms of content,” Open VLD could govern with them, he said. “They are very far from us, both ethically and socio-economically.”

Lachaert was elected Open VLD president on Friday and addressed French-speaking media on Monday as he is little known in Wallonia.

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“The political crisis, which has been going on for 18 months, is very deep in our country. But if there is a time to take responsibility, it is now,” Lachaert told Bel RTL.

Lachaert mentioned the need to look for solutions for a government by 1 September, when support for the current caretaker government led by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès ends.

“For me, content is the important thing. If it’s liberal enough, I can defend it to the members of my party,” he said.

He doesn’t rule out working with right-wing Flemish party N-VA, insisting on the need for a good recovery plan, “which goes hand in hand with a larger federal majority.”

“The most important thing is an effective state. But we are far from that in Belgium. If there is a state reform in 2024, I will be in favour,” Lachaert said.

“This reform will have to be liberal with certain matters, such as health, which could be re-federalized while others, including the labour market, would go to the regions.”

Lachaert is due to meet with Paul Magnette and Conner Rousseau, the leaders of Belgium’s French-speaking and Dutch-speaking socialist parties respectively.

Magnette and Rousseau took the initiative in mid-May to consult the ten parties that have participated in negotiations and supported the granting of special powers to the Wilmès government.

The Brussels Times