Verhofstadt’s party to stay in government
9 February 2004
BRUSSELS – Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Flemish Liberal Democrat (VLD) party will not pull out of the country’s government and has secured a number of key promises on foreigners’ voting rights in Belgium.
Activists meeting at a key party congress in Brussels this weekend had threatened to order VLD ministers to quit the government if plans to give non-EU foreigners the right to vote in local elections were approved by the Belgian parliament unaltered.
However, in the end the VLD congress voted by a comfortable majority to stay in power.
Verhofstadt himself appealed to his party colleagues not to torpedo his government.
“You know I am personally opposed to giving the vote to non-Europeans,” he said.
But, he added, he did not want the issue to bring down the government “in a stupid manner”.
The VLD has also managed to wrangle two concessions out of lawmakers over the content of the proposed new legislation.
Firstly the planned law is set to be revised so that anyone who has had a request for Belgian citizenship turned down will not be able to vote.
In addition, non-EU foreigners who have been sentenced to four months or more in prison would have their voting rights removed.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news