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Antwerp forms city council, Bart De Wever to remain mayor
Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever has announced that the port city has agreed to a new coalition government. While almost all other cities in Flanders reached agreements and appointed mayors weeks ago following the local elections of 14 October, Antwerp was a notable holdout.
The challenge for Antwerp lay in the friction between the nationalists N-VA and ecological party Groen. While the former got the most votes in the city by far (35%), Groen leapt up to second with 18%, double the result of the last local election in 2012.
Groen announced on election night that it would not form a coalition with N-VA. It has remained true to its word: While it leads the opposition, N-VA has formed a majority coalition with liberals Open VLD and socialists S.PA.
It’s a change for the city’s ruling coalition, with the addition of the socialists. Previously, the coalition consisted of N-VA, CD&V and Open VLD. “We worked very hard as a team, asked for what we wanted and got it,” said S.PA leader in Antwerp Jinnih Beels. “We have made our mark.”
De Wever wasn’t interested in responding to VRT’s questions about whether the city council was more left-wing than before. “Talking in terms of left and right is poking us in the ribs a bit,” he said. “We have agreed to a stable accord that contains certain accents.”
Today was the final day before the Christmas holidays begin and thus the final day that an agreement could be announced on time. New municipal coalitions are meant to start on 1 January. Aside from celebrating a new city council, De Wever celebrated his birthday today.
Photo: Open VLD party leader Philippe De Backer, Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever and SP.A’s Jinnih Beels at a press conference today to announce the new local government
©Kristof Van Accom/BELGA