MP Egbert Lachaert is a candidate for the presidency of Open VLD.
Various sources already sounded yesterday, but Egbert Lachaert himself did not want the news explicitly yesterday The standard to confirm. He will do that on Radio 1. Today, together with his running mates (but not five, one from each province, as we wrote earlier), he is a candidate to succeed Gwendolyn Rutten as party chairman. Team-Lachaert will compete with Bart Tommelein and Els Ampe.
His candidacy was expected. He said he would like to wait for the procedure to be officially opened, perhaps next week. But the uncertain formation also caused delays. It remains unclear which government will receive Belgium, let alone when. At the end of March the new Open VLD chairman will be raised.
Opportunity from opposition
Lachaert’s entry makes the fight come loose. West-Fleming Tommelein is considered to be the candidate of the establishment, although he contradicts that and “he guarantees continuity”. Lachaert from East Flanders profiles himself as a real challenger. He strongly protested against a possible participation of Open VLD in a purple-green government supplemented with CD&V. Although there would also be purple-green fans in his team.
Flemish parliament member Els Ampe acts as an outsider. Few give her a real chance. Her candidacy is very suitable to gain more brand awareness.
Tommelein realizes that in a purple-yellow coalition there is no place for Open VLD. Lachaert and his colleagues would not even regret that. The idea is growing that rebuilding from the opposition offers more opportunities. In contrast to the N-VA, Open VLD can easily distance itself from Vlaams Belang. And if the N-VA forms a coalition together with the PS, there will be opportunities to push the right pedal socially and economically.
The Lachaert campaign will in any case be darker blue than that of its competitors, with an emphasis on budgetary orthodoxy, identity and security. Lachaert receives the explicit support of Vincent Van Quickenborne, one of his running mates. The mayor of Kortrijk again aspires to a national role. If Lachaert becomes president, the former minister will almost certainly become the party leader in the Chamber.
Within the party it sounds like Van Quickenborne did not feel strong enough to enter into a direct duel with Tommelein. The popularity of Lachaert cannot be underestimated. Eight years ago he achieved 40 percent. Gwendolyn Rutten then took the loot.