Filip Watteeuw (right): is the love affair between the leftist cartel and the liberals over? Nicolas Maeterlinck

Political stalemate in Ghent: "Liberals are asking too much"

The coalition talks after the local elections in Ghent have been temporarily suspended. The leftist cartel has left the table, arguing that the liberals are asking too much.  The socialists and greens are also unhappy about the fact that the liberals have set up a kind of cartel with the Christian democrats after the elections, to the surprise of many. Has the love affair between the leftist cartel and the liberals come to an end?

The situation in Ghent is complicated, just one month after the local elections. The liberals (Open VLD) made the most progression (+8.7 percent) on 14 October, but the leftist cartel of socialists and greens remains the biggest player, despite having lost votes (-12 percent). 

On the evening of the elections itself, ambitious Mathias De Clercq (Open VLD) declared himself the new Burgomaster of Ghent. However, the cartel also claims the seat of Mayor as they remain the biggest block. Just after the elections, Open VLD made a surprising deal with the Christian democrats (CD&V) - who lost slightly and who are only a small player - to strengthen their position. 

We want to continue working with the liberals, but not at any price

One month later, hardly any progression has been made. Political pundits say that the starting point was a bad one, with two players claiming the position of Mayor. However, speaking yesterday after suspending the talks, the green candidate to become the new Mayor, Filip Watteeuw, told reporters that "the liberals are simply demanding too much. They want the Burgomaster, and they are adding responsibilities to the aldermen positions they are claiming, to make it "super-aldermen"." He added: "This is not acceptable for us."

Mathias De Clercq says things should be negotiated at the table. It's not a solution to run away, he told the cartel. The greens and socialists will now work out their vision and then resume the talks. They say they want to continue the previous coalition with the liberals, but don't understand why the Christian democrats come in. The greens, socialists and liberals have been in charge in Ghent for several terms now, and this to the satisfaction of most Ghent residents.