After weeks of hot and cold blowing, Egbert Lachaert is still in the race to succeed Gwendolyn Rutten as chairman of Open VLD. The 42-year-old East Fleming announced his candidacy on Radio 1 on Thursday morning.
After Bart Tommelein, the mayor of Ostend, and Flemish MP Els Ampe, Lachaert is the third candidate in the presidency race. As a parliamentary party leader, he is a heavyweight who has the chance to keep Tommelein, who until now was top favorite, from the presidency.
According to Lachaert, the party base wants clear core themes and a ‘thoroughbred liberal story with social elements’. “We must give priority to the socio-economic priority,” he said in “The morning.” ‘In addition, we must draw the security theme back to us, just like integration and migration. It is about opportunities for those who work and undertake, but at the same time people have a lot of trouble finding that our social system is too easily accessible. ”
A few weeks ago Lachaert came to the fore in the internal battle at Open VLD about whether or not to participate in a purple-green government. Rutten wanted to start negotiations with the then informer Paul Magnette (PS), Lachaert was put on hold with his federal parliamentary party and with federal deputy prime minister Alexander De Croo. According to them, the bill on the basis of which Magnette wanted to negotiate was far too left. “The Magnette note was ‘inbuvable’ and would pull the game apart, but the ranks are closed again,” says Lachaert. “And the purple-green slope is not even mathematically possible anymore.”
With his opposition to the purple-green slope, Lachaert was able to attract a lot of sympathy with the dark blue supporters, of whom he is now also seen as the candidate. The East-Flemish could count on De Croo’s support. Vincent Van Quickenborne, the mayor of Kortrijk, already publicly noted that he would support a possible candidacy from Lachaert.
Lachaert stressed Thursday morning that he also wants to work on the rejuvenation at the top of Open VLD. “Today it is far too difficult for our young talents to penetrate party management,” it sounds.
Counter candidate Tommelein is rather the representative of the purple-green wing in Open VLD, because he receives tacit support from Mechelen’s mayor Bart Somers and from Chamber President Patrick Dewael. The third candidate, Els Ampe, puts itself on the market as the anti-establishment figure that competes against established values. If federal government formation continues to drag on, the choice of the president and the direction he or she wants to take with the party can play a decisive role in the formation.
Lachaert achieved national fame by throwing himself in the presidential race in 2012 as a noble stranger. He competed against Rutten, who was then the candidate of the party top. With more than 40 percent of the votes, he did better than expected. At the end of 2013 he ended up as the successor of Filip Antheunis, who had resigned, in the Flemish Parliament. In 2014 he was elected as a member of parliament. Since 2013 he has also been ships in Merelbeke.
The presidential elections at Open VLD take place at the end of March. 60,000 members have voting rights. The formal procedure will be started one of the coming days.