Expatica news

Rogue senator thrown out of Verhofstadt’s party

9 February 2005

BRUSSELS – A senator who wanted to do electoral deals with the extreme right Vlaams Belang has been thrown out of  the Belgian Prime Minister’s political party.

Hugo Coveliers, a Liberal (VLD) member in Antwerp, shared a platform with Belang leader Filip Dewinter at the end of last month and announced he would make a pact with Belang, if necessary, in order to take power in the municipal elections in 2006.

His stance went against the position of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and the VLD leadership which argues democratic parties shouldn’t cooperate with Belang – the new face of the Vlaams Blok which Belgian courts have ruled is racist.

On Tuesday morning, Coveliers was summoned to the VLD headquarters for a hearing before the statutory commission to discuss his future within the party.

The rogue senator used the opportunity once again to rubbish the policies of his party, handing out a press statement before the meeting entitled: “Farewell to the VLD..?” In it, he accused the VLD of participating in an “embarrassing farce…in order to prevent the separation of the commune Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde”.

He was bitterly against the decision of the VLD to cooperate with French-speaking parties by agreeing to participate in a working party to discuss the linguistic future of the commune.

Coveliers is among those Flemish politicians who argue there is nothing to discuss and that the commune should become a part of Flanders without delay.

Coveliers told journalists his party could not be trusted on Flemish issues because it was too worried about keeping the French and German-speaking Social Democrats (Parti Socialiste) in the ruling coalition.

It had totally abandoned its Liberal principals, he claimed, in order to keep the leadership in power.

“We only need to wait for the great leader Verhofstadt to be made a saint for the VLD to become a religious party,” he said.

He walked out of the commission early, leaving his ally Leo Goovaerts to defend his position.

He had accused the commission of being undemocratic and breaching the Convention on Human Rights by using methods akin to the Spanish Inquisition.

He said a decision to expel him from the party had already been taken by Verhofstadt, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht and Interior Minister Patrick Dewael, probably at their meeting in Tuscany, and was now being enacted by their “slaves”.

Two hours later, the Commission decided to throw Coveliers out of the party.

Statutory commission president Karel Poma argued he deserved to go because of the distance he had put between himself and his party through systematic attacks on personalities from the VLD and on the party itself.

Coveliers had been publicly talking of creating a new party, Poma pointed out.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news