Former liberal leader says nationalists told her that her party would be “richly rewarded” if she agreed to enter a coalition with the far-right

The former leader of the Flemish liberals Gwendolyn Rutten has told VRT News that during last’s years negotiations on the formation of a new Flemish Government the Flemish nationalists tried to persuade the Flemish liberals and the Flemish Christian democrats to enter into a coalition that would have included the far-right party Vlaams Belang. Speaking on the Friday evening political discussion programme ‘De afspraak op vrijdag”, Ms Rutten said that the leader of the Flemish nationalist party (N-VA) Bart De Wever had told her that her party would be “richly rewarded” if she was prepared to enter into such a coalition. 

The liberals and the Christian democrats didn’t agree to the nationalists request. Ms Rutten added that didn’t understand why N-VA had gone so far. “This legitimises Vlaams Belang and it sends out a signal to those that support you that this kind of thing is ok”.

The former liberal leader believes that last year’s events could offer and explanation as to why it is so difficult for the Flemish nationalists and the Francophone socialist to get together and form a federal government.

"This issue that they have with N-VA in Francophone Belgium are already considerable, but it would be completely impossible for them to envisage talking to Vlaams Belang. If you, as the largest party, say that you would enter in to a coalition with them, it serves to feed distrust and this is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.