Elections 2024: The key players in N-VA

In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political figureheads are gearing up to fight for votes. Today we take a look at N-VA (the New Flemish Alliance) and its key players: Bart De Wever, Jan Jambon and Zuhal Demir.

The mastermind behind the N-VA is party leader Bart De Wever, whose popularity exploded after he took part in the quiz show De Slimste Mens in 2009. He was elected mayor of Antwerp a few years later, and has remained Flanders' most popular politician since.

According to a survey by De Standaard and VRT, 11.3 per cent of people in Flanders feel they are best represented by the N-VA leader, significantly more than the 7.8 per cent for prime minister Alexander De Croo.

Thanks to De Wever's leadership, the N-VA has been the largest party in Flanders for more than a decade, appealing to voters with its dream of an independent Flanders. Unlike Vlaams Belang, De Wever does not want to achieve this goal by sabotaging the Belgian state, but rather through the gradual transfer of governmental powers from the federal to the regional level, also known as confederalism.

Sixth term as leader

De Wever has never been a minister in a Flemish government, even though the N-VA has governed the region continuously since 2004. Despite being the most popular politician in Flanders for more than 10 years, he has turned down several offers to become Flanders' minister president, preferring instead his role as N-VA strategist and mayor of Antwerp.

There is no doubt that De Wever has an enormous influence on his party. In 2020, he was elected for his sixth term as N-VA leader, a position he will hold until after the 2024 elections at the earliest. That means no Flemish government with the far-right Vlaams Belang: De Wever has stated several times that "as long as I am chairman, there will be a Chinese wall between the N-VA and Vlaams Belang".

Nevertheless, there are some N-VA politicians who have managed to escape De Wever's shadow over the years. One of them is Jan Jambon. A staunch Flemish nationalist, he worked his way up the political ladder to become federal Interior minister in 2014. After the 2019 elections, he became minister president in a government with CD&V and Open VLD.

Nitrogen crisis

However, Jambon did not manage to achieve strong results during his mandate. Political infighting led to several crises that almost caused the fall of the Flemish government. One of these was the nitrogen policy crisis, in which another high-profile N-VA minister played a major role: Zuhal Demir, Flemish minister for Environment, Justice, Tourism and Energy.

During her first term as minister, Demir made a name for herself, regularly making headlines for her outspoken comments. She became the enemy of Flemish farmers by imposing strict nitrogen emission limits on the agricultural sector. After months of discussions, Demir had to back down and the burden on farmers was reduced in the final agreement.

Other notable acts include refusing to go to UN climate change conferences, launching the Blue Deal to tackle water scarcity and drought in Flanders, and forcing 3M to pay for its PFAS pollution in Antwerp.


#FlandersNewsService | N-VA leader Bart De Wever © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

Related news

Website preview
Nitrogen crisis deepens rift in Flemish government
With elections less than a year away, the government of Flanders appears more divided than ever. Disagreements over how to cut nitrogen emissions...

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About belganewsagency.eu

Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels