Election2019:"Free on the bus, free to the G.P.’s"

As the election campaign for the 26 May general election hots up Flemish socialist leader John Crombez is campaigning to make more and things free for users: the visit to your G.P., a trip on the bus or tram.  The idea was initially launched by the former SP.A leader Steve Stevaert and over the years came in for a lot of criticism, because, after all, what is free is not really free.  At the end of the day somebody has to pay commentators say.

John Crombez explains his intention: "What's important for us is greater accessibility to several basic services."

These basic services include public transport, medical and dental care and primary education.  But who will pay?  Mr Crombez suggests the monies will come from general means, taxation paid by everyday taxpayers.  Challenged he conceded that free wasn't really free, but insisted it was free for the families themselves: "The strongest shoulders must bear the heaviest burden.”

The party is eager to rein in family bills.

"School bills rise 200 euros.  Ten percent of families can't pay.  This is also the case with energy bills."

Mr Crombez defends his party's track record on free public transport that today has been reversed and suggests that making public transport free for youngsters would only cost 30 million euros.  Bills have also risen in secondary school.  Mr Crombez has an answer: a maximum bill for families with children at secondary school.

There’s been speculation Flemish nationalists, liberals and socialists will join forces to govern Flanders after the election mirroring the Antwerp coalition.  Mr Crombez says this is very unlikely given the very different programmes: "We are closer to the Christian democrats and the greens!"

The SP.A leader hopes to pick up as many votes as in the federal elections in 2014: 14%, but in the last VRT poll SP.A had dropped below the symbolic 10% barrier to 9.2%.