Elections 2024: The key players in CD&V

With the June elections on the horizon, Belga looks at the key political figures from each party.

CD&V, in full Christian Democratic and Flemish, is a Flemish party based on Christian thought. Often labelled as a family party, it emphasises welfare, care and health, as well as a good income for all. Ethically, however, CD&V can be called conservative: on issues such as abortion or euthanasia, the party prefers not to make changes that are too radical or too fast. As such, CD&V is often seen as a true centrist party. Les Engagés is the CD&V’s francophone counterpart.

Sammy Mahdi

Sammy Mahdi has been leader of CD&V for almost two years. He took over from Joachim Coens in 2022 with a clear mission: to pull the CD&V out of the doldrums. For more than 100 years the Christian democrats have been in power in Belgium, but never before has the party been under so much pressure. 

Mahdi, sometimes called "an old Christian democrat in a new package", rapidly rose in ranks until he assumed office as state secretary for Asylum and Migration in the De Croo government in 2020. His short tenure - 21 months, until he became leader of his party -was marked mainly by moments of crisis. There were hunger strikers in Brussels, asylum seekers sleeping on the streets and refugees from Ukraine. Mahdi failed to solve the structural, ongoing problems of reception and return of asylum seekers. 

Upon his appointment, party members thought that Mahdi, with his programme that was ethically and culturally more conservative and socio-economically more left-wing, was the right person to save CD&V. Today he remains optimistic about the impending elections, betting on 12 per cent of the vote and third place in Flanders. But even in the latest major polls, his party still seems to be losing popularity. If so, things could get tricky, both for the leader and for CD&V itself.

Annelies Verlinden

Like her leader, Mahdi, Annelies Verlinden is one of the fresh forces that CD&V is counting on to get rid of disappointing election results. With relatively little experience, she was appointed by former leader Coens to become federal Interior minister in 2020. 

She faced many crises in the last legislature in that role, holding her own but lacking the political drive to push through real reforms. For instance, while she achieved the Administrative Enforcement Act, which gives local governments more clout in the fight against organised crime, she could not deliver on her promises around strengthened police and security forces. In any case, she will lead the parliamentary list for CD&V in Antwerp.

Vincent van Peteghem

Before he entered politics, Vincent van Peteghem already had a successful academic career. After an election victory, however, he become mayor of De Pinte in 2019 and took up a position as a member of the Flemish parliament. On 1 October 2020, he was sworn in as deputy prime minister for CD&V and as minister of Finance in the De Croo federal government.

Initially, he struggled with a rather dull image and lacklustre communication. Nevertheless, he seized every crisis to push through fiscal reforms and even launched a new government bond, in an attempt to compete with savings accounts. This quickly gained him popularity. However, he did not manage to achieve a repeat of that tax-advantaged government bond at the beginning of this year.

Ahead of the elections for the federal, regional and European parliaments on 9 June, Belga English is publishing a series of articles about political parties and the issues they stand for.

#FlandersNewsService | Annelies Verlinden, Vincent Van Peteghem, Sammy Mahdi and Hilde Crevits at the CD&V election congress © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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