Michel Demaret

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Michel Demaret
Born (1940-01-18)18 January 1940
Ukkel
Died 9 November 2000(2000-11-09) (aged 60)
Namur
Nationality Belgium
Occupation politician

Michel Demaret (18 January 1940 - 9 November 2000) was a Belgian politician.

Popular TV hero[edit]

Originally a club bouncer of humble origin from the Marolles neighbourhood, his general attitude and manner of speech made him a target for jokes, but also for popularity among many electors and TV viewers, particularly after the broadcasting of two documentaries about him, at that time still a low level employee at the Retirement Office, by Fait Divers, a famous Belgian television magazine, realized in 1971 and 1972 by Jean-Jacques Péché and Pierre Manuel, Les Fonctionnaires (the Public Servants) and Week-end ou la qualité de la vie (Week end or quality of life). The magazines have been put on the air a lot of times in the next quarter of a century by the Belgian TV, always with a high success. Another documentary,Tel qu'en lui-même enfin (Finally as himself) was made in 1997 by the Strip Tease magazine, filmed at the peak of Demaret's political career.[1]

Popular politician[edit]

After the first documentaries, he was recruited by the former Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants for his Belgian Christian Social Party. He became alderman for the Registry Offices (1976–1982), for Registry Offices, Urbanism and Personnel (1982–1988) and for Public Works and Communal Proprieties (1988–1994), he was also briefly interim burgomaster of Brussels (from 20 July 1993 till 24 March 1994) after the death of Hervé Brouhon. He was the only Christian Social burgomaster in the city's political history, as his mentor Vanden Boeynants was under judicial enquiry each time he tried to rise to this function. He was president of the social housing society Le Foyer laekenois from 1978, a function that made it possible for him to enlarge his clientelist practices. He was also a member of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region (from 12 July 1989 till 1999).[2]

Dubious politician[edit]

A corpulent man, Michel Demaret was popularly known as Dikke Mich (Fat Mike in Dutch), or Monsieur 10% (Mister 10% in French), for his reputation of taking 10% for each contract as alderman for Public Works.

This dubious reputation, also the trading mark of his political godfather Paul Vanden Boeynants, was confirmed fourteen years after his death by a court, but the contractors, his widow Francine Vereecken, his daughter and his son-in-law benefited from the prescription for corruption and whitewashing hitherto attested facts for amounts over 2.5 million euro. At the trial, his stepson said that "In the early 1990s he entrusted me with envelopes. I had to hide them in my small supermarket. Once I counted the content, there were more than 100 million Belgian francs (2.5 million euro). Michel Demaret came back to fetch them.".[3] A few hours before his sudden death, in September 2000, he was controlled in a train from Zürich, the customs officers saw huge banknotes wads sticking out from his pockets, he was slightly drunk and an amount of more than 110,000 euro was found in his suitcase. 30,000 euro were seized and he was notified that he would have to prove that this money had a licit origin to get it back.[4][5][6]

Quotes[edit]

  • The Pope, "who can't use a rubber and put it on his index" (in French, index is the index finger as well as the abbreviation for Index Librorum Prohibitorum)[5]
  • (attributed to him after the demolition of the oldest house in Brussels, denounced by architects and historians) "well, now another one is the oldest"[7]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Lamensch, Michelle (22 January 1994). "Michel Demaret en "Faits Divers"" (in French). Brussels: Le Soir. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Lamensch, Michelle (24 April 1993). "Michel Demaret, bourgmestre faisant fonction" (in French). Brussels: Le Soir. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  3. ^ French: Au début des années 90, il me confiait des enveloppes. Je devais les cacher dans une valise dans ma supérette. Un jour j’ai compté ce qu’il y avait dedans : 100 millions de francs. Michel Demaret est revenu les chercher
  4. ^ "Michel Demaret avait bien été corrompu..." (in French). Brussels: La Libre Belgique. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Robert, François (6 August 2008). ""Dikke Mich" de long en large" (in French). Brussels: Le Soir. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  6. ^ He was also sometimes called Monsieur 20%, according to Borloo, Jean-Louis (26 June 2008). "Pas de sanction pour la corruption" (in French). Brussels: Le Soir. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  7. ^ French: eh ben maintenant, c’est une autre qui est la plus vieille, cf. Verstraeten, Guy (15 January 2008). "Bruxelles et ses joyaux menacés" (in French). Brussels: Le Soir. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Hervé Brouhon
Mayor of Brussels
1993-1994
Succeeded by
Freddy Thielemans