Even before the summer, there was talk of Bart Somers returning to Mechelen: “There is no ideal moment, but I had to do this” (Mechelen)

Even before the summer, there was talk of Bart Somers returning to Mechelen: “There is no ideal moment, but I had to do this” (Mechelen)
Even before the summer, there was talk of Bart Somers returning to Mechelen: “There is no ideal moment, but I had to do this” (Mechelen)

At a press conference in Mechelen, Somers called his love for his city the fundamental reason for his resignation as Flemish minister and his return to Mechelen. “I have been mayor here for a long time and grew up here. We have developed the city into a warm nest, a reference city that both friends and opponents say has undergone an enormous transformation. In uncertain times like these, the local level can offer people protection, perspective and opportunities.”

A second reason, Somers said, “is that the solutions to today’s major social challenges can be found locally.” “Affordable housing will be built in the cities. Cities must find a solution for the climate. Mobility just as much. My belief is that the solutions must be generated locally.”

Stayed active

Somers emphasized that he has always remained active locally. “I have always been here and I wanted to make a clear choice for the city in the run-up to the elections. It is clear to me that I want to lead this city with this team. But in local politics you cannot start doing this two days before the elections. There are regional elections in June, municipal elections only in October. There may not yet be a government in October, so I would still be a minister. This double running is not correct, not for Flanders but also not for Mechelen.” He wants to invest the time and energy he would invest in being a minister and preparing the elections at Flemish level in his city. “I am at a position in my political career where I fully choose Mechelen. I now say clearly to all Mechelen residents: if the voter wants it, I will be mayor unconditionally for six years.”

There is also a second reason for his return, Somers said. “That’s concern. We live in a time when our democratic model is under pressure from populist and extremist forces. That is the challenge of next year’s elections. Don’t those parties threaten to erode the values ​​we stand for? That stake is greater than party politics. Each party must therefore look at how it can strengthen itself. It is my belief that my party should choose personnel renewal. That is a necessary condition. I therefore fully supported Tom Ongena as the new chairman. He is doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances for our party.” Somers believes that a step back to allow innovation is necessary. “I think the best choice is a choice for innovation.”

“It is my belief that my party should choose innovation”

Bart Somers


New city list

Fellow Mechelaar Kristof Calvo (Groen) was also present and praised Somers. “I am happy that he has had his impact in Brussels, and now I am happy that he is coming back to Mechelen. I disagree that this choice came out of the blue. This is not a surprise to almost any Mechelen resident. Bart has been a minister, but has always been in Mechelen. If a traffic sign is crooked in Mechelen, Bart Somers takes a photo of it. So that choice is no surprise. I can confirm that the first conversations took place before the summer. We are taking a new and atypical step. Mechelen has always been atypical.” You can see this in the list building that has been happening with city lists for years, he said. “There is never enough cooperation. We’re going to show you that today. We are taking a new step and standing up in Mechelen politics under one flag. This is the birth of ‘Voor Mechelen’.”

Calvo wants to welcome all Mechelen residents under that one flag, he added. “It’s nice to be involved in local politics today. You can set up new things and step outside the box. We talked about it for a long time and we quickly became convinced that we should join forces. We will supplement our strong team with people with new insights. We open the windows and doors to new people. Innovation is what drives us.”

List leader

There is no ready-made party program yet, says Kristof Calvo. “We promise a willingness to listen. We are going to build what our new list stands for from the bottom up. That is why this is also the birth of ‘Voor Mechelen’. We want to talk to the people of Mechelen about our city and we want to double the efforts we are already making. This birth is not the only news today, but it has everything to do with Bart’s choice.” Somers will therefore be the party leader, Calvo himself the list pusher. “So only positive messages today,” Somers added. “A constructive choice for the city and sufficient confidence in colleagues who can continue the work in Brussels.”

“I have thought about this choice for a long time, but I have made it and I am going for it”

Bart Somers


There had also been long discussions within his party about when Somers would resign. “There is no such thing as an ideal moment, but it is also not ideal to remain as a minister and end up in a role where you are in the Wetstraat and yet in Mechelen. You have to untie that Gordian knot. I have thought about that choice for a long time, but I have made it and I am going for it,” Somers said. Why is there no successor at Flemish level, asked a journalist. “We kept it secret, and now the chairman is going to consult.”

Somers will still stand for the Flemish list in the elections. If he is elected, he will still sit as a Member of Parliament. “We must opt ​​for innovation, but that does not mean that we must throw everyone overboard. If I am elected, I will sit.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: summer talk Bart Somers returning Mechelen ideal moment Mechelen


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