Conner Rousseau: 'If Vlaams Belang and PTB get even bigger, the end of Belgium will come closer'

Conner Rousseau: 'If Vlaams Belang and PTB get even bigger, the end of Belgium will come closer'
Vooruit leader Conner Rousseau. Credit: Wikipedia

Flemish social democratic party leader Conner Rousseau warns of the increasing fragmentation in the Belgian political landscape, in an interview reported by De Morgen.

"Whoever votes for Parti du Travail en Belgique  ( French-speaking Marxists and Socialists) supports Vlaams Belang ( Flemish far-right party)," said Rousseau a rare interview with the French-speaking press.

Rousseau called on his French-speaking colleagues of the federal government to 'lend a hand' in bridging the gap between voters. According to Rousseau, a change of mentality is needed, and he wants to sit down with Mouvement Réformateur chairperson Georges-Louis Bouchez "to understand him better."

Stopping extremist parties

For Rousseau, the biggest challenge in the runup to the 2024 elections is to stop the development of extremist parties.

"Both by the Vlaams Belang and the PTB. If they get even bigger in those elections, the end of Belgium will get closer and closer," Rousseau warned. According to the Vooruit chairperson, what the two parties have in common is that "they don't want to govern," and that "eventually they won't be there for the people."

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Even during his vacation, the Rousseau cannot sit still and works part-time. He gave an interview to Le Soir in which he speaks plainly. Rousseau is conscious of how the federal government isn't well in the eyes of the people.

"We need an electric shock behind the scenes, that's for sure," Rousseau said. Rousseau still supports the government, even as he hopes that it will pull together a tax reform soon.

Results-driven chairperson

Rousseau wants the government to present results, "to show that the parties that are part of (the government) can work together."

An uptake in political deals will convince people to vote for parties "that can make a difference... I don't want N-VA and Vlaams Belang to become so big that they have the majority," said Rousseau. He urged voters in Wallonia to vote for the PS (Parti Socialiste) and not for the PTB (Parti du Travail en Belgique) .

Vooruit is the only Flemish party of the federal government to rise in the polls. "The chairman of Mouvement Réformateur ( French-speaking liberals) can't say that unless for a laugh," added Rousseau.

Preference for a centre-left government in 2024

Rousseau would prefer a centre-left government in 2024, "in which the socialist family will be even bigger". But he doesn't rule out the N-VA in advance, although he denied rumors that he already has an agreement with N-VA leader Bart De Wever .

"Anyone who can count knows that a centre-left government in Flanders is currently not possible. In Flanders, no coalition will be possible without the N-VA, I suppose. Are we going to drive the N-VA into the arms of Vlaams Belang or conclude an agreement with them and adjust their politics? Adjustment seems like a better option to me."

Rousseau doesn't want to "run in circles for another year and a half, if Flanders votes N-VA again and Wallonia again PS". If this were to take place, he argued that "taking into account the reality of the people's voting behavior and looking for points of agreement".

"If they are not found, what is the future of Belgium?," asked Rousseau.

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