Verhofstadt braced for crunch congress

6th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 February 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was on Friday bracing himself for a party conference that could plunge his government into crisis.

6 February 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was on Friday bracing himself for a party conference that could plunge his government into crisis.

This weekend Verhofstadt’s Flemish Liberal Democrat (VLD) party will meet in Brussels for what promises to be a stormy conference.

Many rank-and-file VLD members are furious at government plans to give non-EU foreigners the right to vote in local elections in Belgium. The party’s president Karel De Gucht has already warned that the conference may order VLD ministers to quit Belgium’s government over the issue.

One thousand young VLD activists from Antwerp have put forward a motion to this effect that will be debated at the Brussels meeting. If parliament approves new voting rights for foreigners, the VLD should quit government, they insist.

Such a move would spell political disaster for Verhofstadt, who could well see his second term as Prime Minister destroyed by his own party.

But despite the high stakes, most political commentators are predicting that Verhofstadt will probably survive this weekend. But they warn he will have to use all of his political charm to placate his angry colleagues.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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