Flemish refusal to install four Mayors in municipalities around Brussels

Flemish Interior Minister Liesbeth Homans (Flemish nationalist) will not appoint four Mayors in four Flemish municipalities in the Brussels edge, arguing that these have violated language legislation. Her decision is bound to trigger more tensions between Flemings and French speakers.

The news applies to Drogenbos, Linkebeek, Sint-Genesius-Rode and Wezembeek-Oppem. All four are among six municipalities which may belong to the Flemish Region, but which enjoy administrative facilities for French speakers. There are many French speakers living in the area, a sensitive issue for Flemish nationalists. 

Homans (N-VA) explained her decision in the VRT's morning radio show "De Ochtend".  She said that "the four municipalities failed to respect language legislation". The case is about letters sent to local residents to invite them to go voting in last October's local elections. Homans says Francophone voters received the letters in French instead of Dutch. The concrete consequence is that the municipalities will have to work with one Alderman less, and it's of course very inconvenient to work without an official Burgomaster. 

Federal impact

The municipalities deny the allegations and say they respected the rules. They say they followed the rules imposed by the Council of State and are considering launching an appeal against the decision. The row may also impact on the federal level, as the Francophone liberals (MR) of PM Charles Michel have already lashed out against Homans' decision.

The N-VA are partners of the MR in the federal coalition, which is struggling to reach the month of May, when federal election are taking place.