“British” humor, cordiality, discretion… How Bart De Wever accomplished his royal mission to form an “Arizona” coalition

“British” humor, cordiality, discretion… How Bart De Wever accomplished his royal mission to form an “Arizona” coalition
“British” humor, cordiality, discretion… How Bart De Wever accomplished his royal mission to form an “Arizona” coalition

This Wednesday, as expected, the King has tasked Bart De Wever with a training mission. The N-VA chairman can now launch close negotiations, divided into several working groups between technicians. He will present his next report on 24 July, the Palace stated in a press release. The agenda for the negotiations has already been provided to the partners of the future “Arizona” coalition (N-VA, MR, Engagés, Vooruit, CD&V).

Behind the scenes, the actors in this play are for the most part convinced: the formation of the next government could be completed quickly, in the coming weeks.In any case, a new team will be needed to respond to the European Commission’s remarks regarding Belgium’s excessive deficit.“, notes an “Arizonan” source. Bart De Wever himself has set the goal: for the end of September, before the local elections.

“Pleasant and friendly”

But is Bart De Wever the right man for the job? Can a Flemish nationalist become a good Prime Minister who cares about the general interest? In the secrecy of the meetings organised by the man who was successively an informant, a pre-former and then a trainer, a constructive atmosphere was quickly established.

The image of a grumpy and misanthropic Bart De Wever, withdrawn into his lair in the Antwerp City Hall, does not correspond to reality.What struck me was that he was fully invested in his role.notes an informant at the heart of federal discussions. I found him quite pleasant and likeable. He really has a British sense of humor, all in finesse.“Another source has the same view: “Very cordial and friendly. Never without humor. Intelligent and subtle.

Maxime Prévot praises Bart De Wever’s work: “He is in a phase of total listening and respect”

No kisses

An example of this cordiality that the Flemish nationalist takes care to establish: during a meeting, seeing that Georges-Louis Bouchez, the president of the MR, and Maxime Prévot, the president of the Engagés, kiss each other to greet each other, he jokes by insisting on the north-south differences in customs: “Ah, that’s good, French speakers… You kiss each other. But I refuse.“And he then extends his hand to his interlocutors, displaying a little smile.

As president of the N-VA, he has managed to put this mandate aside. At least symbolically. His party’s point of view is represented by Jan Jambon, head of the N-VA delegation, accompanied depending on the case by MPs Sander Loones, Theo Francken or Bert Wollants. Bart De Wever, in his royal missions, has taken a certain height, examining the discussions with more neutrality. Paying attention to everyone’s point of view, he sometimes speaks in French, sometimes in Dutch. It could not be otherwise, that said, if he intends to gain the essential trust of his future allies and, in the long term, become the next Prime Minister.

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A respectful relationship with the King

In his dealings with the King, Bart De Wever also takes care to appear legalistic and respectful of the institutions. Even if the N-VA still dreams of an independent Flemish republic, its president addresses the head of state with the respect that is appropriate.

Since he ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, King Philippe has met Bart De Wever on numerous occasions. The latter was also the first political figure to whom King Philippe entrusted a mission. This was just after the 2014 elections, which resulted in the “Swedish” majority. Bart De Wever was then appointed as an informant. In total, the leader of the Flemish nationalists has, to date, been entrusted with a mission five times by the Palace.

Republican, but…

Furthermore, Bart De Wever’s speech was significantly smoothed over with regard to the head of state. Although “republican by principle“, the nationalist president has, for example, never betrayed the principle of the “singular colloquium”, this discretion which surrounds the audiences granted by the King to political leaders.

For the 10th anniversary of Philip’s reign, the VRT interviewed the party leaders, inviting them to give their opinion on the way in which the King was carrying out his task. Bart De Wever was positive: “Our king is still trying to approach (relations with the political world, Editor’s note) in a very professional way and that really motivates him. You see his motivation not to make mistakes, not to take sides, not to get into difficult waters, to make choices that can be logically justified and perceived as such by the population and public opinion.

Federal formation: for Conner Rousseau, that De Wever is Prime Minister is “the most logical”

The Prime Minister of all Belgians?

Little by little, the mayor of Antwerp is putting on his statesman’s costume. He has said it several times: he wants to become Prime Minister. At this stage, none of his putative partners at the federal level have vetoed him. On Wednesday, Maxime Prévot, who had previously expressed some reservations, acknowledged on La Première that Bart De Wever had adapted his political style in the right direction: “He is in a phase of total listening and respect“, commented the leader of the Engagés. The latter nevertheless issues a warning: “If Bart De Wever aspires to be Prime Minister, he will have to be Prime Minister of all Belgians.



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