The conscience vote
Lifelong Republican Christian de Fouloy has decided to do the unthinkable and back the Democratic candidate in this year's US elections. And he's asking fellow GOP supporters to do the same. Renee Cordes meets the Brussels-based expat with
De Fouloy: putting conscience before party
In autumn 2002, Fouloy arranged a series of meetings for Wagner in Brussels with political bigwigs such as Hans-Gert Pöttering, head of the centre-right European People's Party in the European Parliament, and former Belgian prime minister Wilfried Martens.
But he claims that Wagner cancelled at the last minute.
In her defence, Wagner told European Voice newspaper at the time that she knew nothing about the meetings — arranged to coincide with a visit to Europe to encourage Americans living overseas to register for upcoming mid-term elections.
De Fouloy didn't buy the excuse.
"I was very embarrassed about this whole situation, so I decided to resign as chairman of Republicans Abroad Belgium," De Fouloy, who has been living in Brussels for the past six years, tells Expatica.
Never one to shirk from speaking his conscience, the lifelong Republican is now in the process of starting a new organisation, Republicans for Kerry Europe (RFKE), which will support the candidate he believes is best qualified to win this year's US presidential election: Democratic Sen John Kerry.
Beef with Bush
His main beef with US President George W Bush is that the current occupant of the Oval Office lied to the American public about the direct link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.
*quote1*"I decided that I could no longer stand up for which this administration was standing for," he says.
De Fouloy also notes that Americans living overseas are more sensitive to worldwide criticism of the Bush administration than those at home.
Kerry, on the other hand, is more attuned to moderate Republicans and is in De Fouloy's eyes the only candidate who will be able to restore and repair the damage done by the current administration.
"I've always been a moderate Republican, but this administration has shown there's no room for us in the party," he says.
In contrast to Bush, De Fouloy says that Kerry is educated, sensitive to foreign cultures and, above all, has never lied to the American people.
The press release announcing the formation of Republicans for Kerry Europe notes that the US is at a critical juncture in its history and that "both American political parties must work together to resolve the serious problems facing the country."
It goes on to plead that "we, as citizens, must get involved in the process to help them do so."
De Fouloy admits it was a difficult decision initially to come out and support Kerry, but he has no regrets.
John Kerry: the real Republican candidate?
Ideally De Fouloy would like his organisation to be affiliated with the US-based Republicans for Kerry (RFK), though when he spoke to Expatica he was still in the process of setting up his group.
He has already done numerous TV and newspaper interviews about his initiative, and recently spoke to a group of schoolchildren in Liege about the importance of showing the courage of one's convictions.
He says that if he's not able to set up a formal structure for his organisation, the fact that the move is getting so much publicity is already doing a great deal to raise awareness.
Kevin Prager, head of Democrats Abroad Belgium, applauded De Fouloy's decision to launch Republicans for Kerry Europe.
"I imagine that it was a difficult choice for Mr De Fouloy to make, and one which required no small amount of integrity, given that he apparently remains a very loyal member of the Republican party, gi