Is Bart de Wever actually the real boss for Belgium? According to a great survey ordered by Le Soir, the main Belgian French daily and RTL-TVI, the first commercial TV channel of the kingdom, more 60% of the polled people think the Flemish nationalist leader is ruling Belgium actually and Charles Michel, current Prime minister, is under influence.
Near one year after the federal elections and eight months after the Belgian federal government entered into force, Bart de Wever still seems to be influent in the Belgian politics. His party, the NV-A (New Flemish Alliance) controls the main strategic ministries and rules Flanders, in a coalition the Liberals and the Christian-Democrats. Federal PM, Charles Michel, is still leading a right-policy who still suits the Flemish nationalists and these one still express they are more focused on reforms for Belgium rather than demanding new transfer of powers for Flanders. NV-A party seems to be more Belgian than Flemish, the top priority is to put the country on the tracks.
In fact, Bart de Wever seems to consider getting the Prime minister’s position is not essential to impose his ideas. Indeed, everything is taking place inside the constitutive regions of Belgium, where the decision-making is really located. Since the recent reform of the State, Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia got new powers in the great displeasure of the federal State who is losing interest and strength. For some Flemish politicians, Belgium is not essential anymore to develop and make Flanders wealthier. Belgium is now seen as a brand, something useful to attract foreigner investors and invite them to make deals in the north of the country and in Brussels, optionally. In other words, heading the Belgian government is not indispensable anymore for the Flemish parties who now consider the PM position as a kind of coordination, not as a symbol of (the national) power, contrary to the Belgian Francophone politicians.
Furthermore, Charles Michel and Bart de Wever became, throughout time, a kind of objective allies. Although the liberal leader is still claiming he struggles for the unity of Belgium, the current Prime minister and the nationalist leader share the same diagnostic regarding their country: it needs to be deeply reformed and modernized, even if it is means getting rid of the Socialist party and its allies, the socialist and powerful trade union FGTB. Michel and De Wever have always considered the (French speaking) socialists as a big obstacle to renovate Belgium and the two leaders found common interests to power. From the moment the Belgian PS is deported to the opposition, and Charles Michel is applying his political views, Bart de Wever does not need to be the Rue de la Loi’s tenant. It is even a real advantage because he has not to face with the Belgian people and groups of interests’ demands, contrary to Charles Michel, permanently exposed.
So, focusing on Antwerp, the city he has been mayor for two years and half, and keeping a distance with the federal political affairs, Bart de Wever can extend an influence on the Belgian government and appear as the real boss of the country, thanks to his new ally, the current Prime minister of Belgium himself!