"New chapter with young leaders"

Guy Verhofstadt, chairman of the Flemish liberal party Open VLD, places the blame for the poor showing of his party in the last elections on himself and his generation. In a VRT Sunday current affairs programme he said his generation should pass the torch on to the next generation.

Open VLD suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections of June 7. This weekend the party held meetings, also to make an internal analysis of what went wrong

"I think that the party has been in a difficult position since 2004. There has been a lack of cohesion and unity and we've come to realise that the party was too busy with tactics as well," said Guy Verhofstadt in the VRT programme De zevende dag..

"Pass the torch on" but Verhofstadt will continue in Europe

Former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was elected to the European Parliament in European elections which also took place on June 7.

When his party turned out to have done poorly in the Belgian elections, chairman of the party Bart Somers resigned.

Guy Verhofstadt took over as chairman until a new chairman can be elected later in the autumn.  His announcement of 'passing the torch on' to the next generation, indicates an end to the Verhofstadt chapter in national politics. 

Mr Verhofstadt is new to Europe and is just embarking on a new career as MEP.

"We need new leadership from the younger generations"

"My generation, who turned the party into the biggest party in Flanders, has made some serious mistakes since 2004 and this has brought us into a downward spiral."

The three main Open VLD politicians Guy Verhofstadt, Patrick Dewael and Karel De Gucht (photo) will pass the torch on to the next generation.

"The conclusion (of our weekend analysis) was - and I have also put forward a proposition to this effect- that we should make a radical break with the past.... We need new leadership from the younger generations."