Vlaams Belang and PVDA not welcome at election debate of Federation of Enterprises
Vlaams Belang and PVDA, the largest right-wing and left-wing party in Flanders respectively, will not be attending the upcoming election debate of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB). "We are not going to invite anyone who wants to destroy us," explained FEB CEO Pieter Timmermans.
The FEB is a Belgian non-profit organisation that represents businesses in the country's three regions: Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia. In the run-up to next year's elections, it is organising a series of debates with various party leaders, who will be invited individually to an hour-long debate on Flemish broadcaster Kanaal Z.
"We will not debate with a party that wants Belgium to disappear and with a party that wants to destroy our country's economy"
But the far-right Vlaams Belang and the far-right PVDA did not receive an invitation. "As the Federation of Belgian Enterprises, we will not debate with a party that wants Belgium to disappear and with a party that wants to destroy our country's economy," Timmermans said, referring to Vlaams Belang and PVDA respectively.
Timmermans went on to say that the FEB wants to talk to everyone, but that the purpose of a debate is to get as many party leaders as possible to speak, and that several - mainly French-speaking - parties said they would not participate if Vlaams Belang was invited. The decision was taken by the FEB's board and was preceded by a lot of discussion, Timmermans added.
"It is clear that the FEB is giving in to the demands of non-democratic French-speaking parties"
"It is clear that the FEB is giving in to the demands of non-democratic French-speaking parties," reacted Vlaams Belang spokesman Alexander Van Hoecke. "It is a pity that the voice of many Flemish voters and Flemish entrepreneurs is not being heard."
Vlaams Belang says it is rare that it is not invited to a major election debate. For example, the party appeared at the election debate of the Flemish employers' organisation Voka.
#FlandersNewsService | FEB CEO Pieter Timmermans. © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ