The future Brussels mayor, Philippe Close, wants to send very clear messages after the tempest that engulfed his town and party. He will only retain mandates linked to the position of mayor. This means he will not take a seat on the Brussels Parliament, for example. He will not be President of the intercommunal body Vivaqua either. The only salary he will get will be the one for being mayor.
“I will reduce my salary by 30 – 40%, a concrete gesture towards my party and citizens to help regain the trust I know has been lost”, he told TV program “A votre avis” (RTBF). “By sending clear messages, I think we can get back out there and win people over again”.
Mr Close is not the first to express a preference for the PS proposition for Brussels after the 2012 elections. Before him there was Faouzia Hariche, Karine Lalieux and Ahmed El Ktibi, as well as Freddy Thielemens and Yvan Mayeur. His choice has not caused any disagreement with his running-mates. “There is no conflict, and no doubt my technical skills helped with that – I was the cabinet director for Mr Thielemans when he was mayor, and I was a councillor. I don’t believe in providential men: managing executive power can only be done with a team and a project”.
A series of crises within the PS (Publifin, ISPPC and Samusocial) have put the PS and its President under a lot of pressure. Mr Close, who was previously the spokesperson for Elio Di Rupo before joining the Brussels government, still has full confidence in his mentor. “I am a loyal person. I know what I owe Elio Di Rupo, I was his spokesperson. I also know what the party owes him. He has a lot of experience and is one of the most popular figures in Wallonia. He has to hang in there and not abandon ship when it gets rocky”, he said.