Bart De Wever

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Bart De Wever
BartDeWever.jpg
Chairman of the
New Flemish Alliance
Incumbent
Assumed office
2004
Preceded by Geert Bourgeois
Mayor of Antwerp
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 January 2013
Preceded by Patrick Janssens
Member of the Flemish Parliament
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 June 2009
In office
13 June 2004 – 10 June 2007
Member of Parliament
(Chamber of Representatives)
In office
10 June 2007 – 7 June 2009
Senator
In office
13 July 2010 – 1 January 2013
Personal details
Born Bart Albert Liliane De Wever
(1970-12-21) 21 December 1970 (age 43)
Mortsel, Belgium
Nationality  Belgium
Political party New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)
Spouse(s) Veerle Hegge
Residence Antwerp, Belgium
Alma mater Catholic University of Leuven
Occupation Politician

Bart Albert Liliane De Wever (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈbɑrt də ˈʋeːvər]; born in Mortsel, 21 December 1970) is a Belgian politician. Since 2004 he has been the president of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a Belgian political party advocating independence for the Flemish region of Belgium within the European Union, and is a member of the Flemish Parliament. He played a prominent role in the 2007 Belgian government formation and presided over his party's victory in the 2010 Belgian federal elections when N-VA became the largest party in both Flanders and in Belgium as a whole.

Since January 2013 he has been mayor of Antwerp following the 2012 municipal elections.

Biography[edit]

De Wever attended the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), graduating with a licentiate (equivalent of the master's degree) in History. As a student he was a member of the Liberaal Vlaams Studentenverbond (LVSV, Liberal Flemish Students' Union), the Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV, Catholic Flemish Students' Union) of Antwerp and Leuven. He is a former editor-in-chief of the KVHV newspapers Tegenstroom (magazine of KVHV in Antwerp) and Ons Leven (in Leuven).

He was employed as a scientific assistant[clarification needed] working on the 'Nieuwe Encyclopedie van de Vlaamse Beweging' (New Encyclopedia of the Flemish Movement). In 2004, he was elected as president of the N-VA with 95% of the votes. He was the only candidate that stood for the election.

De Wever went through a rough stretch in 2006 when he accepted the conservative-liberal[clarification needed] Jean-Marie Dedecker as an N-VA member, causing a split with the CD&V party. In order to reconcile the party, Dedecker had to leave. Although he was extensively criticised, the local N-VA leaders permitted De Wever to remain as N-VA president.

In the 2009 regional elections, his party won an unexpectedly high 13% of the votes, making N-VA the overall winner of the elections together with old cartel partner CD&V. N-VA subsequently joined the government,[clarification needed] with De Wever choosing to remain party president and appointing two other party members as ministers in the Flemish Government and one party member as speaker of the Flemish Parliament.

Under his presidency his party gained around 30% during federal elections held in June 2010. De Wever himself won the most preference votes of the Dutch-speaking region (nearly 800,000).[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

  • Member of the district council of Berchem (1996–1997)
  • Member of the Flemish Parliament. (2004–2007)
  • President of N-VA (2004- )
  • Representative (2007- )
  • Member of Antwerp municipal council (2007- )
  • Mayor of Antwerp (2013- )

Views[edit]

In 2008, while being interviewed on an early morning TV programme, he stated that: "I think that there is no French-speaking minority in Flanders; there are immigrants who have to adapt. We ask the Moroccans and the Turks to do that. We don't say to them 'There's a lot of you, so Arabic will become an official language.' That's crazy."[1]

He is also an admirer of the conservative philosopher Edmund Burke, and his Burkean conservatism.[citation needed] His ideas are also influenced by British writer Theodore Dalrymple.[citation needed]

Controversies[edit]

Former Prime Minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives at the launch of Bart De Wever's book Het kostbare weefsel [The Delicate Tissue] in 2008

In 1996, he was photographed attending a conference held by the French extreme-right Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.[2] De Wever justified his attendance by arguing that "in a democracy everyone should have the right to express his opinion, even if it's an opinion I detest. And I always prefer to get my information first hand than to get it in a filtered way."

In October 2007, in reaction to the apology of the Mayor of Antwerp for his city's collaboration in the deportation of Jews during World War II, Bart De Wever said that:

"Antwerp did not organise the deportation of the Jews, it was the victim of Nazi occupation ... Those who were in power at the time had to take tricky decisions in difficult times. I don't find it very courageous to stigmatise them now."[3]

He later issued an apology to representatives of Antwerp's Jewish community.[4] Following these events, in a tribune published in Le Monde, the Belgian French-speaking writer Pierre Mertens claimed that Bart De Wever was a "convinced negationist leader". De Wever sued Mertens for this allegation.[5][6]

De Wever attended the funeral of Karel Dillen, founder of Vlaams Belang and a holocaust denier, in April 2007.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Pierre Gilissen, La photo qui énerve Bart de Wever, Le Soir, 31 August 2007.
  3. ^ A Belgian leader flirts with the far-right, blog post by 'Charlemagne', 31 October 2007, hosted by The Economist.
  4. ^ Flemish nationalist politician apologizes to Antwerp Jews, European Jewish Press, October 2007.
  5. ^ (nl) Le Soir daagt De Wever uit, De Standaard, 8 July 2008.
  6. ^ (fr) Bart de Wever attaque Pierre Mertens, La Dernière Heure, 8 July 2008.
  7. ^ Face of Flanders, Bart De Wever, Flanders today, 23 June 2010