"2014 will be crucial for the future of Belgium"

The Flemish nationalists of N-VA held their New Year Meeting in Ghent. N-VA president Bart De Wever told his audience that voters will have to make a crucial choice on 25 May: "Remaining in the doldrums with the Francophone socialists of the PS, or having the courage to choose for the N-VA and for change." The other parties were quick to react. "This is nonsense. It's not a battle between the PS and the N-VA. It's about so much more."

The N-VA are the hot favourites to win the 25 May elections - in Belgium, the federal, regional and European elections will coincide on that day, which is why some already call it "the mother of all elections." The N-VA is hoping to enter the federal coalition government to put an end to the policies carried out by the Francophone socialists (PS) and the Di Rupo administration.

In Flanders Expo in Ghent, Bart De Wever said 2014 will be a historic year. "We can go in two different directions: either we continue our struggle under the PS, or we have the courage to opt for change with the N-VA." Mr De Wever denied that his party stands for anti-social policies. "They accuse us of being a cold-blooded party, but in fact it's not the N-VA that is anti-social, but rather the federal policies the PS has been conducting for 25 years."

"This is nonsense"

It didn't take the political players long to react. Rudy Demotte, the Walloon PM, said that it's wrong to reduce the 25 May elections to a battle between the PS and the N-VA. Mr Demotte, a member of the Francophone socialists, said it's a lack of courage that determines the N-VA strategy. "They target us in order to avoid a battle with other parties in Flanders that did show the courage to take part in the federal coalition government. Pointing at someone else is their way of hiding their own shortcomings."

The Flemish PM Kris Peeters agrees that highlighting 25 May as a choice for Flemish voters between the PS and the N-VA is complete nonsense. "In Flanders, there is no PS." He also pointed to the fact that the Flemish region has gained a lot of responsibilities during the latest state reform. This is far from completed, which is why the CD&V argues the political parties should first concentrate on this before starting a new one.