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Flemish parliamentarians feel muzzled by their leaders

Members of the Flemish Parliament say they feel muzzled in their attempts to call their executive to account by questioning them, De Standaard newspaper reported on Monday. There are 13 permanent commissions in the Flemish Parliament. Last year, the various commission chairpersons refused 21% of the parliamentarians’ questions and, in some commissions, it was observed that the number of questions finally passed-on had diminished strongly in the past three months. In the Housing and Mobility commissions, for example, more than half of the questions were judged inadmissible.

Parliamentarians unhappy with the situation include Housing Commission member Mercedes Van Volcem from the Open Vld Party. The situation in her commission is “serious”, she says, adding, “I’ve never seen that before. I never had problems in the previous legislature, when Jan Penris (Vlaams Belang Party) was chairman. But now, the chairman (Lorin Parys) and the minister (Lisebeth Homans) are both from the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance).”

Some would like to see the rules changed to stipulate that a commission chairman should preferably not be the same party as the competent minister. However, the N-VA does not agree. The speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans, stressed, for his part, that an excessive number of questions does not necessary improve the discussions.

The Brussels Times