‘How much more open can the Open VLD actually become?’ – Belgium

‘Will the new movements that stem from what used to be Purple find a new breath?’ Asks Knack editor-in-chief. “A new name alone won’t be enough.”

Was it wishful thinking or just vanity? Last weekend, Ghent mayor Mathias De Clercq (Open VLD) claimed part of the still very early success of SP.A chairman Conner Rousseau. In De Zondag, the political son of ex-Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said: ‘Conner followed my campaign in Ghent very well. I see that he uses the same style and language. ‘ Rousseau has not yet won elections, but expectations are already dangerously high. De Clercq insisted that he has long said that the classic games are outdated. He wants to steer his party in the direction of an ‘open movement’, just like the SP.A is doing. And yes, for the Flemish liberals too, this should ultimately result in a new name, how ‘open’ the ‘Open VLD’ may already sound today. How much more open can the Open VLD actually become? In 1992 Verhofstadt gave d …

Was it wishful thinking or just vanity? Last weekend, Ghent mayor Mathias De Clercq (Open VLD) claimed part of the still very early success of SP.A chairman Conner Rousseau. In De Zondag, the political son of ex-Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said: ‘Conner followed my campaign in Ghent very well. I see that he uses the same style and language. ‘ Rousseau has not yet won elections, but expectations are already dangerously high. De Clercq insisted that he has long said that the classic games are outdated. He wants to steer his party in the direction of an ‘open movement’, just like the SP.A is doing. And yes, for the Flemish liberals too, this should ultimately result in a new name, how ‘open’ the ‘Open VLD’ may already sound today. How much more open can the Open VLD actually become? In 1992 Verhofstadt gave the PVV its current name. Yet it would be time for a different brand name. ‘That is important for a new movement,’ says De Clercq. That is undoubtedly the case, but the engine of a new party or an old party with a new name is a strong front man. And if possible, this leader figure also relies on a strong vision, in addition to the obvious portions of Wille zur Macht, decisiveness and intelligence. Rousseau announced last week that he wants to turn the SP.A into ‘Vooruit’, also the name of one of the hotspots of the city where De Clercq is mayor. But at both De Clercq and Rousseau it is still a bit of a search for the vision. If they speak out explicitly for anything, it is usually the foundations of their parties: solid pensions and support for the weak for Rousseau, and a healthy entrepreneurial climate and the celebration of liberal freedoms for De Clercq. The classic batches may have been abandoned, but the classic recipes apparently not. So what is the difference today between the new movement and the old vision? The package? Shaking hands in the Ghent student cafes? Put on the right white sneakers? Rousseau and De Clercq seem to find each other in a smooth jeunism. Unfortunately, they also seem to find each other in the search for a box that fits their shiny blue or red bow. In his new book, Michael Sandel attacks the idea of ​​meritocracy head-on. That someone gets what he deserves: in the interview you read in Knack this week, the Harvard philosopher explains in great detail why that idea is nefarious nonsense. It is a thought of which a surprising number of left-wing as well as right-wing people are convinced. After all, it’s more fun to congratulate yourself for working yourself up, even if you barely do, instead of recognizing that your starting position has always been so much better than many others. Sandel attaches a devastating political analysis to that false but very vivid idea: “For the past four decades we have been poorly governed by the elite.” It is an idea that can also be found in the French economist Thomas Piketty or the German sociologist Wolfgang Streeck: the first decades after 1945 achieved great achievements, including the development of social security and the welfare state, but it has increased since the 1980s. inequality and economic growth mainly rose to the top. There are many explanations for the rise of populists such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson or the Vlaams Belang in their own country. But where some left liberals are still theatrically pulling their hairs out of misunderstanding almost four years after Trump’s election – how could people now vote for such a monster – others are already looking at the legacy of left liberalism, which for many has failed to bring. what it had promised. This has everything to do with what Sandel throws at his highly educated readers: all power parties have been weakly governed in recent decades, with at most some tinkering with the status quo, but without ambitious, inspiring projects. In the meantime, even the star of new parties like the N-VA, which did have a new story, has also become dull. Will the new movements emerging from what used to be Purple find a new breath? A new name alone will not suffice.

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