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Flemish Liberals and Democrats

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Flemish Liberals and Democrats

"VLD" redirects here. For other uses, see VLD (disambiguation).

Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats
Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten
Leader Gwendolyn Rutten
Founded 1846 (Liberal Party)
1961 (PVV-PLP)
1992 (VLD)
2007 (Open VLD)
Preceded by Party for Freedom and Progress
Headquarters Melsensstraat 34 Brussels
Ideology Liberalism,[1]
Social liberalism,
Conservative liberalism[2]
Political position Centre-right[3]
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party
European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Colours Blue
Former names Flemish Liberals and Democrats
(Dutch: Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten)
Chamber of Representatives
Senate
Flemish Parliament
Brussels Parliament
European Parliament
Website
Politics of Belgium
Political parties
Elections

Reformist Movement (MR).

In the Flemish Parliament, the VLD formed a coalition government with sp.a-Spirit and Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) from after the 2004 regional election until the 2009 regional election. VLD has been a member of the Leterme I Government formed on 22 March 2008, the Van Rompuy I Government formed on 2 January 2009, the Leterme II Government formed on 24 November 2009 and the Di Rupo Government formed on 6 December 2011.

Ideologically, the VLD started as an economic liberal,[4] somewhat Thatcherite party under its founder, Guy Verhofstadt. The VLD rapidly became more centrist and gave up much of its free market approach, partly under the influence of Verhofstadt's political scientist brother Dirk Verhofstadt. Party chairman Bart Somers called in November 2006 for a "revolution" within the party, saying that "a liberal party," like the VLD, "can be only progressive and social."[5]

From 2000 to 2004, during the second period of its participation in the Belgian federal government and under Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the VLD allegedly lost most of its ideological appeal. Several of its thinkers such as (former member) Boudewijn Bouckaert, president of Nova Civitas, heavily criticised the party. Many others resented the priority it placed on the 'Belgian compromise', which enabled the French Community Socialist Party to gain a dominant position in the formulation of Belgian federal government policy.

In 2004 the VLD teamed up with the minority liberal party Vivant for both the Flemish and European elections. VLD-Vivant lost the elections to arch rivals CD&V and the Flemish Bloc. The VLD fell from second to third place among the Flemish political parties, slipping narrowly behind the sp.a-Spirit cartel. Internal feuds, the support for electoral rights for immigrants and an unsuccessful economic policy were seen as the main reasons for its election defeat.

On 19 June 2004 the VLD successfully negotiated a regional coalition government with CD&V and the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the Christian Democrats and moderate nationalists, and with the social-democratic sp.a-Spirit. In a federal cabinet reshuffle in July 2004, VLD chairman Karel De Gucht replaced Louis Michel (Reformist Movement) as minister for Foreign Affairs. Former Flemish Minister-President Bart Somers is the new party chairman.

History

As such the liberal party is the oldest political party of Belgium. In 1846, Walthère Frère-Orban succeeded in creating a political program which could unite several liberal groups into one party. Before 1960, the Liberal Party of Belgium was barely organised. The school pact of 1958, as a result of which the most important argument for the traditional anti-clericalism was removed, gave the necessary impetus for a thorough renewal. During the liberal party congress of 1961, the Liberal Party was reformed into the bilingual Party for Freedom and Progress (PVV-PLP), and Omer Vanaudenhove became the chairman of the new party. The new liberal party, which struggled with an anti-clerical image, opened its doors for believers, but wasn't too concerned about the situation of the employees and primarily defended the interests of employers.

In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the tensions between the different communities in Belgium rose and there were disagreements within the liberal movement as well. In 1972, the unitary PVV-PLP was split into separate a Flemish and a Francophone parties. On Flemish side, under the guidance of Frans Grootjans, Herman Vanderpoorten and Willy De Clercq, the PVV was created, on Walloon side Milou Jeunehomme became the head of the PLP and Brussels got its own but totally disintegrated liberal party landscape. Willy De Clercq became the first chairman of the independent Party of Freedom and Progress (Dutch: Partij voor Vrijheid en Vooruitgang, PVV). De Clercq, together with Frans Grootjans and Herman Vanderpoorten, set out the lines for the new party. This reform was coupled an Ethical Congress, on which the PVV adopted very progressive and tolerant stances regarding abortion, euthanasia, adultery, homosexuality and gender equality.

In 1982, the 29-year-old reformer Guy Verhofstadt became the chairman of the party, and even was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Budget from 1986 to 1988. Annemie Neyts succeeded him as chairman, becoming the first female party chairman. In 1989, Verhofstadt once more became the chairman of the PVV, after his party had been condemned to the opposition by the Christian People's Party (CVP) in 1987.

In 1992, the PVV was reformed into the Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten or VLD under the impulse of Verhofstadt. Although the VLD was the successor of the PVV, many politicians with democratic nationalist or socialist roots joined the new party. Notable examples are Jaak Gabriëls, then president of the Volksunie, and Hugo Coveliers. From the early 1990s, the VLD advanced in every election, only to get in government following the 1999 general election when the VLD became the largest party. Guy Verhofstadt became Prime Minister and Patrick Dewael became Minister-President of Flanders. They were both at the head of a coalition of liberals, socialists and greens.

2007 elections

Before the 2007 general election, the VLD participated in a cartel with Vivant and Liberal Appeal. In February 2007, it decided to cease the cartel and start operating under the name Open Vld. In the 10 June 2007 general elections, Open Vld won 18 out of 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 5 out of 40 seats in the Senate.

2010 elections

In the 2010 general election, Open Vld won 13 out of 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives. After the long government formation process, on 6 December 2011 the Di Rupo I Government was formed, with Open Vld one of the six constituent parties.

Europe

The party is fairly pro-European, and holds three seats in the European Parliament, where it sits as a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group. Then-current VLD prime minister Guy Verhofstadt was rejected as a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission in June 2004.

Electoral results

Federal Parliament

Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1995 798,363 13.1 in opposition
1999 888,973 14.3 Increase 2 in coalition
2003 1,009,223 15.4 25.9 (#1) Increase 2 in coalition
2007 789,445 11.8 18.8 (#2) Decrease 7 in coalition
2010 563,873 8.6 13.6 (#4) Decrease 5 in coalition
Senate (Senaat)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/–
1995 796,154 13.3 21.2 (#2)
1999 952,116 15.4 24.6 (#1) Steady 0
2003 1,007,868 15.4 25.9 (#2) Increase 1
2007 821,980 12.4 20.1 (#2) Decrease 2
2010 533,124 8.24 13.3 (#4) Decrease 1

Regional parliaments

Brussels Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1995 11,034 2.7 (#8) in opposition
1999 13,729 3.2 (#7) Steady 0 in coalition
In cartel with VU
2004 12,433 2.7 19.9 (#2) Increase 2 in coalition
2009 11,957 2.6 23.1 (#1) Steady 0 in coalition

Flemish Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1995 761,262 20.2 (#2) in opposition
1999 855,867 21.7 (#2) Increase 1 in coalition
2004 804,578 19.8 (#3) Decrease 2 in coalition
In cartel with Vivant
2009 616,610 15.0 (#4) Decrease 4 in opposition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of electoral
college vote
# of
overall seats won
# of electoral
college seats won
+/–
1994 678,421 18.4 (#2) Increase 1
1999 847,099 21.9 (#1) Steady 0
2004 880,279 21.9 (#3) Steady 0
2009 837,834 20.6 (#2) Steady 0

Representation

Election year Chamber Senate Brussels
Parliament
Flemish
Parliament
European
Parliament
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014

International

The party is a member of the Liberal International, which is co-chaired by Annemie Neyts, member of Open VLD.

Presidents

Notable members

Notable former members

  • Boudewijn Bouckaert, a former VLD board member who left the party subsequently to Dedecker's exclusion, believing the party turned "left-liberal". He and Dedecker are founders of a new political party, Lijst Dedecker.
  • Hugo Coveliers, left the VLD to found his own political party VLOTT.
  • Jean-Marie Dedecker, was excluded from the VLD after several conflicts with the top of the party. He asked for an economic policy more in favour of free markets and limited government and believed that the party was too closely aligned with the Socialists. He founded the Lijst Dedecker party.
  • Leo Govaerts, left the VLD to found his own political party Veilig Blauw (Safe Blue).
  • Ward Beysen, left the VLD to found his own political party Liberaal Appèl.

See also

References

External links

  • jongvld.be
  • openvldvrouwen.be
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