Bart Tommelein quitting Flemish Government to become Mayor of Ostend

The Flemish Finance, Budget and Energy Minister Bart Tommelein is to leave the Flemish Government at the end of the year to take on a new challenge as Mayor of the West Flemish coastal city of Ostend. Mr Tommelein is also the liberals’ Deputy Prime Minister in the Flemish Government. Lydia Peeters (photo below) will replace Mr Tommelein as Minister for Finance, Budget and Energy Minister. She will be a Minster for just 5 months though with the Flemish, Federal and European Election due on the last Sunday in May. 

The Flemish liberal minister Sven Gatz will take on Mr Tommelein’s responsibilities as Deputy Prime Minister in the Flemish Government.

She will be a Minster for just 5 months though with the Flemish, Federal and European Election due on the last Sunday in May.

Mr Tommelein has not come back on his earlier decision to stay on as a Minister until the region elections and let a party colleague keep the Ostend Mayor’s seat warm for him.  

Speaking about his decision to quit the Flemish Government to become Mayor of his home city, Mr Tommelein said. “I was really planning to, as announced, remain Deputy Prime Minister in the Flemish Government for the rest of my mandate. But the call of Ostend is becoming ever louder. The challenges in my city are great. I feel that I can best start from day one. This means that we as a team can leave the starting blocks at full strength”.   

"I compare it to us having built a boat and us being ready to launch it. The crew boards the vessel, but the captain remains on the quayside and says ‘I will join you later’. I didn’t feel right”, Mr Tommelein said when explaining his decision. He added that it had been a difficult decision to make.        

With Mr Tommelein leaving a new Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will join the Flemish Government 5 months before the elections. With this in mind the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois (nationalist) would have preferred that Mr Tommelein stay on in the Government.   

Mr Tommelein joined the Flemish Government in May 2016 after the resignation of his predecessor Annemie Turtelboom. Prior to that he was Secretary of State in the Federal Government. 

NICOLAS MAETERLINCK