'Flemish people have the choice between confederalism or impoverishment,' says N-VA leader

'Flemish people have the choice between confederalism or impoverishment,' says N-VA leader
N-VA leader Bart De Wever delivers a speech at the traditional new year's reception of Flemish nationalist party N-VA, in Mechelen, Saturday 14 January 2023. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

In the 2024 elections, Flemish voters will have the choice between confederalism or impoverishment, N-VA leader Bart De Wever announced in his speech at the party's New Year's reception, Belga News Agency reports.

Around 4,000 to 5,000 members of the right-wing Flemish nationalist party gathered at the Nekkerhal in Mechelen on Saturday evening for their New Year's reception. In his traditional speech, Bart De Wever praised his N-VA colleagues in the Flemish government for not giving in to "popular demands to hand out more money," he said.

"If the policy remains unchanged, Flanders will return to having a more balanced budget, which De Wever believes would allow Flanders to stand alongside the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian countries."

N-VA to lead with confederalism policy at 2024 elections

The N-VA leader criticised the Federal Government by stating the influence of the "French-speaking left" within the executive has never been stronger.  "No reforms and a fake budget with the biggest deficit in the EU. After De Croo, Belgium can no longer even stand alongside the southern European countries," De Wever declared. "Never with us. We don't do politics just to allow our leaders to have a nice career."

The tone was set for the rest of the speech. "On the budgetary level, we are the red lantern of Europe, while we have the highest taxation on labour in the world. It is fools who work, and these fools are the Flemings", continued Bart De Wever. According to him, the so-called Vivaldi government cannot show good results in other areas either. Whether it is the fight against organised crime, energy policy or migration, he believes the Federal Government has not been successful in these areas.

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon (N-VA) was present. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

For Bart De Wever, who is also the Mayor of Antwerp, it is therefore crucial that Flemish voters break with the status quo in the Belgian elections in 2024. "Not by giving a useless vote to the extremes, that is the shortest way to a Vivaldi 2 and the end of Flemish prosperity," said the N-VA leader.

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In contrast, the latter presented his party as one that "stands firm on its principles, a party that will not bend over backwards in exchange for a miserable prime ministerial post, a party that represents the only viable model for ensuring Flemish prosperity."

Bart De Wever also reiterated his plea for confederalism, in which powers are transferred to the federated entities as independent states.

Farmer protest N-VA's record in Flanders

On the occasion of the party's New Year's reception, farmers went to the venue with a column of tractors to protest against the Flemish Government's nitrogen plan, with Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) as a particular target.

A farmers protest pictured during the traditional new year's reception of Flemish nationalist party N-VA, in Mechelen, Saturday 14 January 2023. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

"There is an N-VA party going on here, but for us, the farmers and the rest of the population, there is no reason to celebrate," said poultry farmer Gunter Klaasen. "They are jeopardising food security and making the future of agriculture very uncertain."

For Klaasen, Minister Demir is responsible for the Programmatische Aanpak Stikstof (PAS), a programme to manage nitrogen emissions that aims to drastically reduce them, but the policy risks having serious consequences for the agricultural sector. In his speech, De Wever also praised Demir's approach.

The main objective of the farmers on Saturday evening was to make their voices heard. "We want to reach people with our message and open their eyes." Klassen explained.


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