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The Flemish Nationalist N-VA outperformed expectations during the municipal and provincial elections this weekend, consolidating at a local level the victory it enjoyed during the federal elections in 2010. As the cherry on top, party leader Bart De Wever gained the victory over the SP.A-CD&V City List in Antwerp of sitting mayor Patrick Janssens SP.A-CD&V. De Wever remains convinced that the Flemish parties in the federal government CD&V, SP.A and Open VLD failed to negotiate a decent state reform and in his victory speech he invited federal prime minister Di Rupo to start preparations on a new round of state reform to be negotiated after the next elections in 2014. But the other Flemish parties and Di Rupo himself vigorously rejected the proposal and stressed these were local elections.
The biggest political victory since World War II was how De Wever referred to his party’s results. “We have suddenly become the biggest local party in Flanders and even performed better than in 2010. The N-VA is no longer a giant with the feet of a dwarf, but the party that represents the Flemish mainstream.”
Boasting results that far exceed the magical threshold of 20% in most areas, the party is now solidly entrenched in Flemish soil and has become asecond or third biggest player in many municipalities. In about 40 of the 308 Flemish municipalities it has even become the undisputed leader, including cities like Sint-Niklaas, Aalst and Turnhout, and more particularly in towns and municipalities around Antwerp and in the region of De Kempen, where the party managed to take the lead in a large number of municipalities. With its impressive victory in Antwerp, the biggest Flemish city, the N-VA is poised to strengthen its position in the Flemish political field both within the Flemish government and at federal level. Deputy minister-president Geert Bourgeois N-VA has already suggested this shift in political weight may be tangible within the Flemish government and on federal level. De Wever yesterday called on Di Rupo and all French-speakers “to join in the rollout of confederal reforms”. At the same time it seems as if the party could soon be put in its place after it became clear last night that the N-VA will not be allowed to participate in government in a number of cities and municipalities. The N-VA even suggested that the CD&V does everything in its power to forge coalitions without the N-VA, which is painful, if one considers that the N-VA is very keen to prove its ability to ensure good governance; especially in view of the upcoming “mother of all elections” in 2014.
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