November 20, 2023
‘If that can bring about a breakthrough’, Bart De Wever wants to become prime minister, says the N-VA. Jan Jambon previously indicated that he wants to continue as Flemish Prime Minister.
The N-VA places its pawns on the chessboard, even though some in the party believe that votes must first be won before talking about the positions. After the Flemish nitrogen agreement last week, Jan Jambon already said that he wants to continue as Flemish Prime Minister after the elections of June 9, 2024. Now it is said that chairman and Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever is prepared to become prime minister ‘if that can bring about a substantive breakthrough’. ‘Not to sit in the Sixteen and implement the PS program, like Alexander De Croo now’, it sounds.
De Wever is prepared to lead a mini-cabinet in 2024, although the N-VA does not believe it will come to that.
De Wever is not formally a candidate prime minister, but falls back on the position that he is willing to take on his responsibility as prime minister if that helps to make a confederal change possible. On the eve of the members’ congress in May, the N-VA chairman already indicated that, as during the government negotiations during the corona crisis, he is considering the scenario of quickly setting up a mini-cabinet with the PS for two years. Such a cabinet could agree on minimum objectives, especially budgetary ones, and prepare a confederal change.
De Wever is prepared to lead such a cabinet, although the N-VA does not believe it will come to that. When De Wever announced in 2020 that he wanted to take responsibility as Prime Minister, it had the opposite effect: all doors were closed at the Parti Socialiste. De Wever was not sorry that he missed the Sixteen, but that he had missed another opportunity for a confederal turnaround.
More than the Sixteen, the fight against Vlaams Belang is top of mind for the N-VA. The Vlaams Belang is in a winning mood and is fishing in the same electoral pond as the N-VA. The greater the aversion to the Vivaldi coalition, the more difficult it is for De Wever to tell his electorate that he does not want to know about Vlaams Belang. And so the strategies become more subtle, and the ball is pushed even more towards Vlaams Belang chairman Tom Van Grieken.
The door to a collaboration is left ajar, as Jambon did with the story that his son was still at school. mateke was from Tom Van Grieken, the chairman of Vlaams Belang. But then the party must be clean, it sounds. In this way, De Wever leaves the door ajar when Vlaams Belang gets rid of the burnt figures among its members.
The fact that the leader of Schild & Vrienden Dries Van Langenhove has left and the Antwerp leader Filip Dewinter has been pushed into the background – for the first time he will not pull, but push the Flemish list – fits in with Van Grieken’s plan to prepare Vlaams Belang to participate in government. Although that seems to have a counterproductive effect: in an interview with Humo, Dewinter recently explored the discourse of the Vlaams Blok from the 1990s.
For N-VA leaders such as Flemish minister Zuhal Demir, who is rabidly anti-Vlaams Belang, cooperation with Vlaams Belang is far from an option.
Van Grieken nevertheless seizes every opportunity to make it clear that there is no room for racism in his party. “Racist statements are unacceptable,” the chairman of Vlaams Belang said in ‘Villa Politica’ in response to the racist ‘zatttemanslap’ by Conner Rousseau, who resigned as chairman of Vooruit on Friday. ‘I am for freedom of expression. But advocating violence based on skin color is more than a bridge too far.’ Van Grieken said he would sanction a member of parliament who makes such statements.
What De Wever really has in mind is destroying Vlaams Belang.
In his zeal to bring Vlaams Belang to power, Van Grieken takes risks. For example, he ignores the words of Gerolf Annemans that Vlaams Belang must always remain ‘dirty enough’ so as not to lose its electoral appeal.
By consistently kicking the ball to Van Grieken, the N-VA hopes that the chairman of Vlaams Belang makes mistakes. Because what De Wever really has in mind is not cooperation but the destruction of Vlaams Belang. ‘Ceterum censeo VB essedelendam’, it sounds, which literally means: ‘By the way, I am of the opinion that Vlaams Belang must be destroyed.’