Elections 2024: The key players in Vooruit

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

Vooruit is a centre-left political party that advocates for social democracy and progressive policies. Their focus is on workers' rights, education, affordable healthcare, protecting people's purchasing power and sustainable development. The party emphasises inclusivity and equal opportunities for all citizens, aiming to create a fairer and more equitable society. Parti Socialiste (PS) is the party's francophone counterpart.​

Melissa Depraetere

Vooruit chair Melissa Depraetere is recognised for her dedication and leadership. In 2023, she took over as interim leader following the resignation of Conner Rousseau. Depraetere is respected for her commitment to enhancing social welfare, focusing on increasing purchasing power and ensuring access to quality care and education​.

In January, she put a bill forward urging a total ban on political parties advertising on social media, saying: "The magnitude of the amounts spent on social media advertising today is completely abnormal."

Overall, Depraetere is respected within her party and among supporters for her efforts to improve the lives of citizens through progressive social policies.

Conner Rousseau

Former leader Conner Rousseau has been a polarising figure in Flemish politics. While he was initially praised for revitalising the party and increasing its popularity, his tenure was marked by significant controversy. He resigned from his position in late 2023 following backlash over racist remarks made while drunk​.

Despite his apology, which many deemed insufficient, and efforts to shift focus back to party goals, public opinion on Rousseau remains divided. While some acknowledge his contributions to the party's growth, others view his actions as damaging and irreconcilable with the values of a progressive party​.

Rousseau's high-profile social media presence and unconventional approach, such as participating in entertainment programmes, have kept him in the spotlight. He recently rejoined Vooruit as the party's "lijstduwer" (list pusher), the final position on the electoral list often taken by well-known politicians or celebrities to help garner interest and attract votes.

Frank Vandenbroucke

Frank Vandenbroucke, deputy prime minister and minister of Health and Social Affairs, has been praised for his dedication to social policies and his role in managing the Covid-19 crisis. However, he has also faced criticism, particularly in light of controversies such as the corporate spy scandal involving vaccine distribution contracts​. Additionally, his handling of the pandemic has been subject to scrutiny, prompting an OECD audit into Belgium's crisis management and recovery efforts​​.

Despite these challenges, Vandenbroucke remains a significant and influential figure in Belgian politics. He recently established a group to improve endometriosis care in Belgium.

Caroline Gennez

Caroline Gennez, minister of Development Cooperation and Urban Policy, is outspoken in her stance on international issues, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has been vocal in her support for Palestinian rights and her criticisms of Israeli policies, which have sparked diplomatic tensions.

Some have praised her statements as a courageous stand for human rights and justice, while others view them as controversial and diplomatically sensitive​. Actions such as pledging significant financial support to Palestinian aid programmes have been seen as a commitment to humanitarian efforts.

Gennez is also a spearhead for teacher training, women's rights and health cooperation between Belgium and Africa.

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 | Frank Vandenbroucke, Melissa Depraetere, Caroline Gennez and Conner Rosseau © BELGA PHOTO TOM GOYVAERTS

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