Earlier this week, people were eagerly awaiting whether the former chairman of Vooruit would appear at the congress of the East Flemish socialists. Would he still pull the list, or push it? However, there was no question of a political comeback: Rousseau is not ready for it yet, although the list pusher’s place will remain reserved for a while if he changes his mind.
Today Rousseau addressed the audience after all, even if it was the case with our northern neighbors. In Amsterdam he appeared at a conference where he addressed about 150 consultants and communications strategists from the business community. Also in the audience: several journalists from Flemish media. He gave a presentation on ‘how the left can win over the people again’, with which he gave an insight into his strategy as party chairman and how he tried to make his party more relevant.
“We, the socialists, were not the answer to any question,” says Rousseau, who started as a self-employed person with some communications assignments in the Netherlands, but is a noble unknown there as a politician. “Who protects my purchasing power? Who ensures that I can pay for my groceries? For my pension, affordable care, education? After two years, we did have the answer to all those questions.”
Rousseau emphasizes how he always tried to respond to the emotions and gut of the voter, and cites the cashier Deborah as a symbol of recognisability. But also statements for which he has been under fire, such as when he said he did not feel at home in Molenbeek: “I received negative reactions in my bubble, but everyone on the street understood me. The next poll was our best ever and I was the most popular politician.”
Rousseau has clearly not lost any of his self-confidence, as is evident on stage. “I’ve been away for two months now and a lot of wannabes want to copy me, but they still haven’t taken my place. People who were fans of me are not suddenly fans of the B version.”