Nicolas Maeterlinck

Rebel nationalist councillor thrown out of the party

The local branch of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA in the East Flemish town of Ninove has expelled one of its two councillors from the party. Joost Arents will now sit as an independent. Earlier this week Mr Arents offered his support to a coalition of liberals and the centre-left list S.A.M.EN.

This went against the party line that was to spend the forthcoming municipal legislature in the opposition. At the municipal elections in October the Forza Ninove list led by the Guy D'haeseleer, a member of the Flemish Parliament for the far-right Vlaams Belang gained 40% of the votes and fell just 2 seats short of obtaining an absolute majority.

The Flemish nationalists suffered losses and had just 2 councillors elected. With just a week to go before the start of the new municipal legislature, a town of 38,000 people just over 20 kilometres west of Brussels still had no new municipal coalition to govern it for the next 6 years. Mr Arents’ decision means that the deadlock has been broken and that the incumbent Tania De Jonge (liberal) can continue as Mayor.           

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Arents said that he would sit as an independent. He had hoped that he would have been able to remain in the nationalist party. He said that his decision to support the new coalition had been inspired by the leader of the Flemish nationalists Bart De Wever’s decision to form a coalition with the socialists (and liberals) in Antwerp.     

"I will always be N-VA (Flemish nationalist). The alternative was to put the town in the hands of the far-right.

The new coalition in Nivove has the support of 17 of the 33 members of the council that was elected on 14 October, a majority of 1.