Politicians are not all postal grabbers, writes journalist Stavros Kelepouris. But Open Vld has done its utmost to feed that perception in recent weeks.
Liberals love flexi-jobs. If it were up to Open Vld, the world would be a much better place if everyone had an affordable part-time job. In retail and the catering industry, or – as we learned this week – politics itself. Member of Parliament, mayor, minister: sometimes the callings come from all sides.
New Flemish Member of Parliament Bob Savenberg (Open Vld) was fortunate on Tuesday that all the spotlights were on the unlikely comeback of his party colleague Gwendolyn Rutten, and not on the crazy interview he gave to the public broadcaster. As the first successor, Savenberg may sit in the Flemish Parliament for another six months now that Rutten becomes minister, and the former Clouseau drummer is very pleased with that.
“I really want to experience that,” says Savenberg. Such as Walibi, a threesome or Tomorrowland. As long as it doesn’t take too long, of course, because Mr Savenberg is a busy man. “I’ll have to see how I can manage it all, because I’m already working seven days a week.”
Can you show much more disdain for the office of representative? A well-paid experience, preferably done between soup and fries. No, leave the job to someone who does think that elected officials should take their work a little seriously.
The same can be said mutatis mutandis of other liberals, not least Bart Somers and Gwendolyn Rutten. What was the blue drama of three weeks ago actually necessary for? In short, it was this: a member of parliament who felt deprived because she did not become a minister.
As if good MPs have some kind of divine right to become ministers, only then do they count. And if they simply have to remain MPs: shame! A lack of respect! I don’t want to belong to a club like that anymore! Until they become ministers three weeks later: then it is a great club again.
Political cynicism was also evident in Bart Somers. The truth is that Somers had seen it as a minister, that he no longer had any interest in those power games at the top of the party, and that he thinks he can enjoy himself more as mayor.
But no: suddenly Mechelen was his true calling. “Nothing comes close to being mayor of the beautiful city of Mechelen. Neither in satisfaction nor in importance.” In other words, that ministership was a nice sweetener, even though Somers had been the titular mayor all along. There is no better office, at least as soon as I get tired of it in Brussels.
All those excuses, all those high-sounding explanations: leave it alone. People aren’t stupid. Which voter will think: that 6,000 euros per month for a member of parliament who actually has no time to deal with my concerns is money well spent? Politicians are not all postal grabbers. But Open Vld has done its utmost to feed that perception in recent weeks.