On the morning of her swearing-in ceremony as a brand new Flemish minister, Gwendolyn Rutten (Open Vld) first made an appearance in De Ochtend on Radio 1 to explain her rapid change of position. Because after the dismissal of Vincent Van Quickenborne from the federal government, she decided, out of indignation, to quit national politics.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have done that publicly with a Facebook post, but that’s how I felt at the time. Period,” he said. “But when you talk to each other, as you do with friends or colleagues, you can do two things. Or camp on your anger and sit in a corner and buck. Or saying ‘fine, I’m going to get over this and grab the opportunity with both hands.’”
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“I understand that people look at this and raise their eyebrows, but at the same time I am sure that many people have experienced such a situation in their own lives. Politicians are only human. They also get angry sometimes and argue with each other,” she concludes.
“Of course political credibility was important in that decision. But I talked about that with my husband and children and they said, ‘If you feel like you can make a difference, you should do it.’ Getting over your own point and continuing to work is also part of life.”
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Open Vld chairman Tom Ongena’s argument that it is time for political renewal also seems to have been sidelined with Rutten’s quick return. Although, according to Rutten, that is not entirely correct. “That political innovation will be visible first and foremost on our lists. Paul Van Tigchelt, as the new Minister of Justice, is also an example of this,” he said. “But we are at a crucial moment in the Flemish government and expertise is needed. That is also important.”
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