De Wever: "I'll be honest: I don't like De Croo"

Two leading Flemish politicians are at loggerheads. N-VA party head Bart De Wever and leading Flemish liberal Alexander De Croo are not the best of friends. This is revealed in the documentary "Schild en vriend" by the commercial TV station Vier. And how deep is the water between the Christian democrat leader Wouter Beke and Mr De Wever, as CD&V and N-VA are poised to make a Flemish coalition government after the elections?

Journalist Eric Goens followed some party leaders during the election campaign. The quotes are not always recent, but it's the first time they come to light. And, more important, they say something about the atmosphere on the eve of the elections and the subsequent government formation talks.

Alexander De Croo says things went wrong after the stalemate in the 2010 government coalition talks, when the N-VA decided to step aside. Open VLD decided to continue the talks with the Francophones without the N-VA, together with the other main Flemish players. Mr De Croo says he hasn't had a phone call from Mr De Wever in 4 years' time. "I think his mobile phone number has changed and he hasn't given me his new number." De Croo is said to feel betrayed by the leader of the New Flemish Alliance.

De Wever retorts by saying he does not trust Mr De Croo. "You can never take his word for something. I don't trust him, and to be honest, I don't like him as a person. I am just being frank on this one."

Open VLD and N-VA have not been the best of friends for some time. It's a public secret that the N-VA prefers the Christian democrats CD&V over the liberals as possible coalition partners after the elections - if they have a majority together, even better, the N-VA argues, red. Both parties used to have an alliance, going to the polls as one, before they split up and went their own way.

In this respect, it may be important to say that CD&V president Wouter Beke also has his doubts about Bart De Wever. Mr Beke says he is finding it increasingly difficult to trust his former alliance partner. Mr De Wever keeps a low profile on this one. "I don't have the same feeling with Wouter Beke. If he says that, I regret this a little bit." 

At the same time, Bart De Wever puts the importance of personal relations in politics into perspective. "It's nice if you get on well on a personal basis, but it doesn't have to be a stumbling block in the other case." On the other hand, poor interpersonal relations were one of the main causes of the long formation talks between the different parties after the previous elections, with the federal talks paralyzing the country for one year and a half.