2. Antwerp. N-VA’s Bart De Wever seems set for a landslide win, but will it really happen? Sitting socialist mayor Patrick Janssens lags behind but may benefit from strategic voting. In short: All voters who do not want the nationalist De Wever as mayor may rally around Janssens.
3. The Christian-democrat CD&V calls itself the people’s party because of its strong grass roots support. Can it hold on to this status? Or will N-VA, whose local candidates lack the stature of De Wever, become the new people’s party?
Destined to be a miner, like his immigrant father, Koçak takes pride in being a first. He had hoped to be the first mine engineer of Turkish descent. As it turned out, he was “in the pit” at 16. With little formal education, he went on to become not only the first alderman but also the first teacher at a police school of Turkish descent in Flanders. In interviews, he’s often spoken of his dream to become the first Turkish mayor.
In the wake of these events, all fingers point at one man, deemed responsible for the series of events. Fouad Belkacem, the spokesperson for the radical organisation Sharia4Belgium, is believed to have incited hatred against non-Muslims over the internet, something he was already convicted of last year. Belkacem has now become public enemy number one in the press and political circles, though most Muslims consider him to be nothing but a troublemaker.
Getting more voters is the number one job for SP.A’s new president. In September Bruno Tobback, the only candidate for the job, will succeed Caroline Gennez as the head of the socialist party.
Every year, newspapers list out the holiday destinations of Belgium’s main political players. Usually, they do this because there is little else to report. But this year was different. The timing of the holidays was particularly odd, just one day after a dramatic speech by the King, which seemed to indicate that this time, for real, the country was falling apart.
This weekend, De Gucht lashed out again in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. He is perplexed by the political crisis that has left Belgium without a federal government for 11 months: “The politicians in power now can govern Europe like no one else. But themselves? Belgium? Alas. This isn’t normal, is it?”
Again, Belgium has not moved any closer to forming a federal government.
Tuybens entered the political scene in 2005, when he became secretary for government enterprises in the federal government. Before that, he worked as a broker, specialising in ethical investments, at KBC bank. He was also the president of Amnesty International Flanders.
Recently this description has fit the presidency of the socialist SP.A even more. Factions, discontent and disappointment, it's all there. When De Morgen last week reported that SP.A president Caroline Gennez would not stand for a second term, the news, though unconfirmed, surprised few. Since 2007, Gennez has blundered a couple of times. She tried to change the party's name without much internal consultation. She disappointed allies by denying them ministerial portfolios.
When it was founded in 2001, N-VA did not position itself as either right or left; it was nationalist foremost. That changed with the self-declared conservative Bart De Wever as president. He has even joked that "his real boss is Voka", an employers' organisation.