Search begins for new Migration secretary as Mahdi is elected chairman of Flemish Christian Democrats

With 96,86 percent of votes, Sammy Mahdi was elected the new chairman of the Flemish Christian Democrat party (CD&V) on Saturday. Mahdi’s election leads to a major personnel change in the Belgian federal government, as he is set to leave his current post as federal Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration. His successor is set to be chosen on Monday. Members of Parliament Els Van Hoof and Nahima Lanjri appear to hold the best cards.

Off the record, party sources have made it clear that the new Migration secretary will be a woman and a member of parliament. As such, Nahima Lanjri from Antwerp stands a good chance, as she has specialised in migration for many years during her tenure as MP. Els Van Hoof (Flemish Brabant province) also appears to be firmly in the running.

Mahdi’s landslide election result was to be expected, as he was in fact the only candidate to succeed Joachim Coens as party chairman. Coens announced his departure at the beginning of May, after a poll shwowed CD&V would win a mere 8,7 percent of the vote if parliamentary elections were to be held now – a serious blow for what was once the country’s largest political formation.

“I felt great concern among the local chapters about our results. And I have always said that I would take on the task if asked.”

“Strategically it might have been smarter to remain Secretary of State, but duty called”, Mahdi said Saturday after his speech to CD&V members, talking about the post he assumed only 21 months ago. “I felt great concern among the local chapters about our results. And I have always said that I would take on the task if asked.”

The newly elected chairman wants to focus on overhauling his party’s communication strategy. “People today look more at their little screens than they do at their partners. I am a child of my generation, I want to respond to that reality, to the visual culture.” In addition, Mahdi wants to tackle the public’s indifference towards CD&V. “We have to create clarity about the foundations of the party, and we have to act more strongly against coalition partners”, he said, citing wage indexation and child benefits as mechanisms CD&V should strongly defend.






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