Socialist Beels: “Candidate to become Mayor if De Wever becomes Flemish PM”

The Alderman responsible for Education Jinnih Beels (socialist) has said in a television interview that she is a candidate to succeed Bart De Wever (nationalist) as Mayor of Antwerp if Mr De Wever decides to become the Prime Minister in the new Flemish Government. With its 6 seats Ms Beels’ party is the second largest in the three-party coalition that governs the city. Mr De Wever’s nationalist have 23 seats with the liberals having 2 seats.     

Ms Beels told the press agency Belga that while she isn’t demanding to become Mayor, if Mr De Wever moves on to pastures new, it is something that she would want to discuss with her coalition partners.   

During the campaign Mr De Wever has said on a number of occasions that he is a candidate to succeed his party colleague Geert Bourgeois as Flemish Prime Minister. If this were to be the case he would need to resign as Mayor.  

This has caused unease among his socialist coalition partners. “We are not easy about this. If it were indeed to be the case that Mr De Wever were to become Flemish Prime Minister, not just anyone could replace him as Mayor. It would need to be a person that brings people together, as is stated in the coalition agreement”.  

Given their numerical superiority, it would seem logical that any replacement for Mr De Wever would come from the nationalist group on the council. However, this isn’t necessarily a done deal and any candidate would also need to enjoy the support of the nationalists’ coalition partners. 

In a reaction the current Mayor Bart De Wever said in a somewhat irritated fashion that given his party's numerical superiority “As far as I’m concerned she can forget becoming Mayor”.

The liberals too were dismissive of Ms Beels’ mayoral ambitions.

"Claiming the mayorship is inappropriate”, the Antwerp liberal politician Philippe De Backer told journalists.