Flanders coalition partner warns‘no deal with far right’
17 June 2004
BRUSSELS – One of the leading parties making up the newly-elected Flanders coalition list on Friday ruled out agreement to any deals with the far right Vlaams Blok party to govern the region.
The Vlaams Blok emerged as the party with the second most popular electoral list in Sunday’s poll.
“We totally exclude the possibility of an alliance with the Blok,” Jan Renders, who heads the ACW party, part of last Sunday’s winning CD-V/N-VA list in regional elections in Flanders, told Flemish economic daily De Tijd.
“Our deep philosophy is totally at odds with this [Vlaams Block] party.” the left wing party leader said.
Renders warned that the CD-V would disintegrate if it breached the agreement between mainstream political parties not to do deals with the Blok.
His comments published Friday coincided with talks held the same day between Vaams Blok leaders and Yves Leterme, who headed the the CD-V/N-VA list and is charged with forming the next government in Flanders.
Despite the popularity of the Blok’s anti-immigrant ultra nationalist rhetoric among Flemish voters, Leterme has said he will not form a government with the far right group.
He said his talks with the Blok on Friday, along with meetings with other political parties, were to seek “clarification” on certain elements of its programme.
Leterne’s move came in for criticism by media commentators who saw it as a weakening, even if not a breach, of the so-called ‘Cordon Sanitaire’. The agreement between Belgian political parties, launched in 1989, to isolate the Blok- including the refusal of any pact with the far right party – is aimed at encouraging voters to see a vote for the Blok as wasted for a say in government.
But Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, a Flemish Liberal, has also adopted a nuanced attitude towards the Blok, telling Flemish newspapers Het Volk and Het Nieuwsblad,this weekthat he believed it was time to begin a frank dialogue with the far right party.
Verhofstadt claimed it would quickly show the weaknesses in the Blok’s “simplistic” politics.
Analysts have said the Blok is in fact the single most popular political party in Flanders because the CD-VN-VA list was a coalition ticket comprised of two different parties.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news