Alexander De Croo, Belgian liberal Prime Minister responsible for resisting separatist tendencies in Flanders

Alexander De Croo, the Belgian Prime Minister, at a press conference at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Wednesday, September 30, 2020.

In the complex Belgian political system, it is sometimes enough to make a name for yourself. For Alexander de Croo, 44, a Flemish liberal who became prime minister Wednesday, September 30, it was not easy: he is the son of legendary figure in public life, Herman de Croo, 83. Minister on various occasions, senator, party president, president of the chamber of deputies, this earthy character, close to the royal family, perfectly bilingual is still a Flemish regional elected representative today. And he sees his son taking on one of the few roles he has dreamed of without being able to perform it.

Alexander De Croo is smoother, more discreet and less talkative than his father and it will have taken a while for him to break free from his pervasive tutelage. A Belgian and American business school graduate, engineer, executive of a German company and consultant for an American company, he then founded a start-up in the digital sector. The perfect portrait of the “Young Global Leader” that he is, regularly invited to the Davos Economic Forum.

However, it is difficult to resist the family virus: at 34 years old, this father of two is a candidate (not elected) in the European elections and will take the head of his party, the Open VLD, succeeding Guy Verhofstadt with a program called “Change courageous “. A formula that he could have taken up on Wednesday noon, during his first public appearance in the costume of the head of government, his political agreement for “a united and sustainable Belgium” under his arm.

Parties with often contradictory interests

The successor of other liberals, the French-speaking Sophie Wilmès and Charles Michel, will, in any case, have to work to correct an image: that of the person responsible for the longest crisis in the country’s political history (five hundred and forty-one days). In 2010, he disconnected, in fact, the capture of the coalition led at the time by the Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, and caused elections which would lead to a resounding victory for the Flemish nationalist right and the collapse of the Open VLD, the training of Mr. De Croo.

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In 2012, however, he became Deputy Prime Minister in the government of the Walloon socialist Elio Di Rupo. It wasn’t until 2018, when he took over as finance minister, that he really established himself as a top executive.

Now at the helm of a ministerial team to which the Alliance néoflamande (N-VA), the nationalist right of Bart de Wever, and Vlaams Belang (VB), the Flemish extreme right, will lead very hard life, since neither the Neither are associated with the coalition, Mr De Croo will need his pragmatism. Leading an alliance of seven parties (socialists, ecologists and liberals from both communities, in addition to the Flemish Christian Democrats), with often contradictory interests, will not be an easy task.

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