Elections 2024: Egbert Lachaert to step down as Open VLD leader after summer

Egbert Lachaert will step down from his position as leader of the Flemish liberals Open VLD after the summer, a year ahead of the elections. He announced this in a statement on Wednesday, saying: "In order to make a success of further reform of the liberal party, everyone must dare to question themselves."

Open VLD has continuously faced disappointing poll numbers, which have led to internal criticism. According to Lachaert, the party has taken "great responsibility at a difficult time", and now "the time has come to implement reforms that make our country stronger for the future".

With fellow party member prime minister Alexander De Croo, Open VLD wants to focus on "leadership in difficult times" and build the organisation around this concept. Lachaert: "In the light of those choices, I am convinced that it is appropriate for me to have a different role other than that of leader."

Lachaert believes in a "resurrection" of the Flemish liberals. "There is clearly room for a liberal movement in Flanders. No one should doubt that," he said. He will remain an MP for Open VLD.

Finding the next leader

Open VLD has two deputy leaders: Senate president Stephanie D'Hose and MP Jasper Pillen. Following Lachaert's announcement to step down, D'Hose said she understood his decision and told Belga: "Perhaps there is a need for a transitional pause. The disappointing polls have hit everyone hard, especially the leader. We now have to take a rest and let the dust settle. We will use the summer recess to see how things should proceed and who can take over."

She said she has no ambition to take on the role herself.

"Our liberal base does not want a rudderless ship"

Meanwhile, Flemish MP Else Ampe thinks the party board should "meet as soon as possible to set a date for presidential elections". "Our liberal base does not want a rudderless ship," she told Belga.

In the presidential elections three years ago, Lachaert faced competition from Ampe;, the relative unknown Stefaan Nuytten and former minister Bart Tommelein, who announced this year that he is stepping down from national politics.



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