Peeters: "Milquet should have kept silent"
On Monday the inhabitants of the six Flemish municipalities around Brussels received a notification in Dutch for the upcoming municipal elections. Flemish Minister for Home Affairs Geert Bourgeois N-VA was behind the idea, seeking to avoid notifications first being sent in French. Should that have happened it would have been contrary to the Peeters circular, Flemish legislation overseeing language in the Flemish municipalities, including those with so-called language facilities for French speakers. In these areas French speakers may only receive official documents in French when they expressly request for it. A number of acting Francophone mayors in these municipalities with language facilities had already declared their intention of distributing notifications in French. Meanwhile the French speaking federal Minister for Home Affairs Joëlle Milquet CDH announced on the French speaking RTBF radio that she regretted Bourgeois’ step, adding that in her view it did not comply with Flemish legislation. Her Flemish counterpart immediately and emphatically denied this, with the backing of his minister president, Kris Peeters CD&V. The latter referred to article 4 of the Flemish electoral decree: “The Flemish government can take all necessary steps required for elections to be properly held. It can also commission the provincial governor with the required tasks.” Peeters said that Milquet should have kept silent. ‘The Vlinderakkord the Butterfly agreement on the sixth Belgian state reform between the Liberals, Christian Democrats, Socialists and Greens is intended to create peace between the language communities. But agreements in themselves are not sufficient to do that. Only politicians can do that by not making unconsidered remarks and playing the firebrand. Unfortunately I can see that there are a number of politicians who will be unable to refrain from doing so before the elections on 14 October.’ Luk Van Biesen Open VLD, on the ballot in Kraainem, yesterday applauded Bourgeois’ decision, saying that it would prevent tensions between the language communities. Meanwhile N-VA MP Ben Weyts called on the prime minister, Elio Di Rupo PS, to haul Milquet back in line. Meanwhile MR chairman Charles Michel said that it would bear witness to common sense to send the notification in the voter’s own language.