Belgian PM De Croo resigns after disastrous European elections

The liberal Belgian prime minister's party came ninth in the country's European Parliament elections, sparking his resignation and celebrations among the big winners on the night, the right-wing Flemish nationalists

FILE - Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo resigned on Sunday evening after his liberal party came ninth in Belgium's European Parliament elections. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced his resignation on Sunday night after a disastrous result for his liberal Open VLD party in the European Parliament elections.

The prime minister’s party amassed just 5.8 percent of the vote share after 98 percent of the votes had been counted, fewer than eight other parties.

The big winners in Belgium on the night were the right-wing Flemish nationalists of Vlaams Belang (14.7 percent) and the New Flemish Alliance with 14.2 percent of the European Parliament vote.

In what had been dubbed “Super Sunday” due to the regional elections being held on the same day, the pro-independence Flemish parties also stormed to victory locally and will command a majority in the Flemish regional parliament.

De Croo appeared visibly emotional as the news broke of his party’s underwhelming performance, and he later admitted defeat and responsibility for the loss.

“This is an extremely hard evening for us. We have lost this election,” he said, adding that he would be resigning from his position but would remain as caretaker until a successor has been decided upon.

National Flemish Alliance (N-VA) leader Bart De Wever hailed his party’s electoral success in a speech to supporters on Sunday.

“Friends, we have won these elections, and admit it: you didn’t expect that. The polls were bad, the comments in the press were damning, but you never gave up,” he said.

So did Tom Van Grieken, the leader of Vlaams Belang, who told jubilant party members the Flemish independence movement had a “historic opportunity” to unite and realize its ambitions over the next parliamentary term.

“Dear friends, Flanders voted even more right-wing and also Flemish than five years ago in 2019,” he told the crowd. “It looks like, for the first in the history of Flanders that a Flemish nationalist majority is possible in the Flemish parliament.

“So tonight, I explicitly call on the N-VA not to miss this historic opportunity. Flanders has spoken very clearly tonight.

“Dear Bart,” Van Grieken said in a direct address to the N-VA party leader, “don’t miss this historic opportunity.”

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