Expatica news

Call to merge VLD with far right sparks outrage

29 June 2005

BRUSSELS — Liberal VLD chairman Bart Somers has started disciplinary proceedings against party colleague Boudewijn Bouckaert who said the cross-party agreement banning co-operation with the Flemish Interest is a mistake.

Somers distanced himself from the statement, saying it was “unacceptable” and was at odds with a unanimous party executive decision not to make any more statements that could damage the VLD, tarnished by recent internal disputes.

Bouckaert suggested in an interview with weekly magazine ‘Tertio’ the VLD should consider disbanding in future and co-operating with the extreme right.

He backed a two-party model based on the Anglo-Saxon model in which a centre-left and centre-right party would be represented in Parliament.

The left-wing would be formed by the Socialist SP.A, green party Groen! and the union movement, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Wednesday.

The VLD, the right-wing group of the Christian Democrat CD&V, the New Flemish Alliance NV-A and the Flemish Interest would form the parliamentary right-wing.

Bouckaert is also opposed to the tight reigns imposed by Somers on party executives, stressing also that his comments were a personal opinion.

“As an academic I must be able to give my opinion. Maybe the positions of political academic and a member of the party executive of the VLD are not compatible,” he said.

Bouckaert suggested the ‘cordon sanitaire’ — in which the traditional Belgian parties agreed not to co-operate with the Flemish Interest — was a “strategic blunder”.

He said the party — the predecessor of which, Flemish Block, was convicted of racism — had evolved in a positive direction and was becoming more moderate. He also said the Flemish Interest had never been a fascist party.
“With the exception of a small group which cultivates extreme right ideas, The Flemish Interest belongs in still to be established centre-right political formation,” Bouckaert said.

The academic reacted with surprise to Somers’ decision to lodge a complaint with the party’s statutory commission for possible disciplinary proceedings.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news