Dider Reynders and Marija Buric.

Council of Europe disappointment for Didier Reynders: "His candidacy was too strong"

Belgium's outgoing Foreign Minister Didier Reynders will not become the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The Francophone liberal had hoped for this top job as he is planning to quit Belgian politics, but he was beaten by Croatia's Deputy PM Marija Pejcinovic Buric. Reynders' liberal colleague Rik Daems claims Reynders' candidacy was too strong, and that this turned against him. 

Buric gained 159 votes among parlementarians in Strasbourg, while Reynders secured only 105 votes. Buric will be only the second woman in the Council of Europe's 70-year-history to hold this top job. The Council is an organisation concerned with human rights and rule of law. 

Rik Daems, a Flemish liberal who belongs to the EU's ALDE fraction, told the VRT that "almost everyone agreed that Reynders was a better candidate." But he said certain issues played an important role: "A number of countries formed a bloc to vote in favour of Buric, and it may have helped that she was a woman." Third, Daems thinks that Reynders was maybe too strong as a candidate: "Some prefer a person on whom they can have some influence. Reynders is being perceived as someone with his own strong will, who wants to follow his own line and who can't be influenced." However, others say that Buric was just the best candidate. 

Daems said that Reynders was disappointed after missing the job. "It would he been good not only for Reynders, but also for Belgium."