Jonas Roosens

Nationalist Group Leader: "You don’t have to be scientifically correct when addressing your own supporters”

The leader of the Nationalist Group in the Flemish Parliament Wilfried Vandaele has no issues with comments made by the Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) in which he claimed that a family of asylum-seekers would be able to buy a house with the money it received in child benefit. Mr Jambon’s claim appeared in an article in Saturday’s edition of the daily ‘De Tijd’. ‘De Tijd’ said that Mr Jambon had made his claim at least twice when addressing meetings of his supporters. Mr Jambon’s claims were soundly condemned by the leader of the Flemish Liberals Gwendolyn Rutten. Nevertheless, speaking on VRT radio Mr Jambon’s party colleague Wilfried Vandaele said that when addressing your own supporters you don’t always have to be “scientifically correct”.  



The Flemish PM made his claims during two readings he gave at the De Warande business club in Brussels. He said that he had “heard the story” from a third party. He used his claim to highlight the issue he has with the current system under which asylum-seekers receive back-payments of child benefit once they have been granted asylum. The back-payments cover the period during which their asylum claim was being processed.  

All the governing parties (liberals, Christian democrats and Flemish nationalists are in agreement that the back payments mean that large sums are paid out and the government took the decision to scrap the back-payment system. Nevertheless, a family being able to buy a house with the back-payment they have received has yet to occur Yves Coemans of Famifed told VRT News. On Sunday the Flemish Liberal Leader Gwendolyn Rutten spoke of "a made-up story". 

The nationalists’ Group Leader in the Flemish Parliament Wilfried Vandaele used an interview with VRT Radio 1 to defend Mr Jambon.

"I don’t understand what Ms Rutten is trying to say. Everyone knows that when you give a reading supporters, as Mr Jambon was doing, you can sometimes use poetic licence to make your point. I think that everyone does it sometime in the privacy of a meeting”.     

Mr Vandaele says that his party colleague Mr Jambon doesn’t need to offer any firm evidence to back up his story.

"Everyone has given a ready in which they use an image that they hope will stick during their interaction with the audience. This doesn’t have to be scientifically accurate”. Mr Vandaele added that it was another (Flemish) coalition party that first told the story of asylum-seekers buying a house during the talks that led to the coalition being formed.  

He concluded by saying that he hopes that the three parties that form the Flemish Government can work together to ensure that the measures contained in the coalition agreement become a reality.

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