Nationalist leader explains his decision not to govern with the far-right

The leader of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA Bart De Wever has explained in an interview with VRT News’ daily current affairs programme ‘Terzake’ why he decided not to involve the far-right party Vlaams Belang in the talks for the formation of a new Flemish Government. Mr De Wever said that in the first instance this was because the other parties wouldn’t enter into a coalition with Vlaams Belang and secondly because the difference between his own party and Vlaams Belang remain too large.  

When asked whether his party would ever govern with Vlaams Belang, Mr De Wever replied “It will be on the right side of the wall or it will not be ever”.  

Mr De Wever told Terzake that over the past few weeks he has made efforts to try and find a way in which Vlaams Belang could take on responsibility as a governing party. The nationalist leader refused to elaborate. All he would say is that he had “very civilised talks” with the leader of Vlaams Belang Tom Van Grieken.  

Mr De Wever added that he couldn’t ignore the message sent out by the voter on 26 May and that he had done all he could to negotiate with Vlaams Belang. However, he eventually decided not to continue the talks as the Christian democrats and liberals categorically refuse to enter a coalition with Vlaams Belang. Consequently it would impossible to form a majority government in which Vlaams Belang were a part.  

Another reason given by Mr De Wever for not including Vlaams Belang in the talks is the party’s style. Since its inception, the party has always been a party of hard opposition with little or no room for nuance and an efficient propaganda machine that is in constant campaign mode.

“If you are serious and want to become a party of government you should stop being so aggressive and insulting towards people on social media. If you carry on in the same harsh vein after the elections you are not going to be able charm anyone”.  

Great Wall of China

As well the differences in their style, Mr De Wever says that the ideological difference between his party and Vlaams Belang are still too great. And that he is not prepared to climb over what he metaphorically described as “The Great Wall of China” that stands between his party and Vlaams Belang.

He added that Vlaams Belang is a party with two faces. “The friendly constructive face of Tom Van Grieken, but also a party that is a genuine propaganda machine, a populist party of the right in all its words and in its style”.    

Historic mission

Mr De Wever says that he know perfectly well where he and his party stand ideologically. “It is absolutely clear what I think about identity and what my historic mission is with the country.

That is to return it to democratic governability through confederal reform. If a Flemish national breakthrough is ever possible with regard to this, it would result in great progress being made in this country”.

However, Mr De Wever see no good coming from risking making Flanders ungovernable by entering into a minority government with Vlaams Belang.