Mentally disabled man on local election roll in Ghent

The Flemish Christian democrats of CD&V have put 41-year-old Didier Peleman on 20th place on their list for the local elections in Ghent. This normally wouldn't make the headlines, except that in this case, Didier Peleman has a mental handicap.

Didier Peleman is probably the first ever candidate for any local election in Belgium who is mentally disabled. According to Veli Yüksel, who will head the Ghent list, the selection of Didier Peleman is part of the CD&V's main motto for the elections: [everyone included].

"I have problems talking and writing, but that doesn't mean I should stay in a corner", Peleman told the VRT's radio channel MNM. He presses for more accessibility  (keeping texts and quotes more simple and reduce the gap between politicians and the normal people, red) and more attention towards disabled people. "It's important that everyone can take part. With the help of a coach, I should be able to do that in Ghent."

Veli Yüksel (small photo) is happy that Didier Peleman is running as a candidate. "We wanted to prove that our slogan is not just words. Didier has been with us for quite a while. He offered to be on our list and wants to take part in the campaign."

Mr Yüksel is still investigating whether there wouldn't be a problem if Didier Peleman would get elected and take up a seat in the Ghent city council. "We do have examples though of politicians who couldn't work on their own." However, chances of Didier Peleman being elected are rather small as he is only on 20th place.