Bart De Wever

Bart De Wever
Mayor of Antwerp
Assumed office
1 January 2013
Preceded byPatrick Janssens
Leader of the New Flemish Alliance
Assumed office
Preceded byGeert Bourgeois
Member of the Chamber of Representatives[1]
Assumed office
19 June 2014
In office
28 June 2010 – 7 May 2014
Member of the Antwerp City Council
Assumed office
Member of the Flemish Parliament [2]
In office
7 June 2009 – 24 May 2014
In office
13 June 2004 – 27 June 2007
Senator for the Flemish Community [3]
In office
13 July 2010 – 1 January 2013
Member of the Berchem District Council
In office
Personal details
Bart Albert Liliane De Wever

(1970-12-21) 21 December 1970 (age 49)
Mortsel, Belgium
Political partyPeople's Union (Before 2001)
New Flemish Alliance
Spouse(s)Veerle Hegge
ResidenceDeurne, Belgium
Alma materCatholic University of Leuven
Bart De Wever in 2004

Bart Albert Liliane De Wever (Dutch: [ˈbɑrt də ˈʋeːvər] born 21 December 1970) is a Belgian politician. Since 2004 De Wever has been the leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), a Belgian political party advocating independence for the Flemish region of Belgium within the European Union; he is also a member of the Chamber of Representatives. He played a prominent role in the 2007 Belgian government formation and presided over his party's victory in the 2010 federal elections when N-VA became the largest party in both Flanders and in Belgium as a whole.

Since January 2013 he has been Mayor of Antwerp, following the 2012 municipal elections.


Born in Mortsel, De Wever attended the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), graduating with a licentiate (equivalent of the master's degree) in History. As a student he was a member of the Liberaal Vlaams Studentenverbond (LVSV, Liberal Flemish Students' Union), the Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV, Catholic Flemish Students' Union) of Antwerp and Leuven. He is a former editor-in-chief of the KVHV newspapers Tegenstroom (magazine of KVHV in Antwerp) and Ons Leven (in Leuven).

He was employed as a research assistant working on the Nieuwe Encyclopedie van de Vlaamse Beweging (New Encyclopedia of the Flemish Movement). In 2004, he was elected as party leader of the N-VA with 95% of the votes, being the only candidate up for election.

De Wever went through a rough stretch in 2006 when he accepted the conservative-liberal Jean-Marie Dedecker as an N-VA member, causing a split with the CD&V party. In order to reconcile the party, Dedecker had to leave. Although he was extensively criticised, the local N-VA leaders permitted De Wever to remain as N-VA president.

In the 2009 regional elections, his party won an unexpectedly high 13% of the votes, making N-VA the overall winner of the elections together with old cartel partner CD&V. N-VA subsequently joined the government,[clarification needed] with De Wever choosing to remain party president and appointing two other party members as ministers in the Flemish Government and one party member as speaker of the Flemish Parliament.

Under his presidency his party gained around 30% of the votes in Flanders during federal elections held on 13 June 2010. De Wever himself won the most preference votes of the Dutch-speaking region (nearly 800,000).[4][5]

De Wever visited former British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street on a number of occasions and maintained contact with Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor of London.[6][7]

He is an avowed admirer of Edmund Burke and his political philosophy, and has described British conservative writer and social critic Theodore Dalrymple and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as influences.[8]

De Wever has expressed criticism of the cordon sanitaire placed on the Vlaams Belang party and following the 2019 Belgian election stated that he was considering breaking it to include the VB as a potential coalition partner.[9][10]

The historian Bruno de Wever [nl] is his older brother. His grandfather had been the secretary of the Flemish National Union, a flemish far right party from the interwar period that had been recognised as the ruling party by the occupying Nazi forces, and his father was an activist for the Volksunie. However, during an interview, Bart De Wever nuanced his grandfather's past by claiming he had not collaborated with the occupier.[11]

2010 Belgian Federal Election

An early election was held on 13 June 2010, resulting in the N-VA winning most votes in the Dutch-speaking areas and the Socialist Party (PS) in French-speaking Belgium. Nationally the two parties were almost even with 27 seats for the N-VA and 26 for the PS, the remaining seats being split between ten other parties. For 541 days after the elections, no agreement could be reached among the parties on a coalition to form a new government and during that period the country continued to be governed by an interim government. On 6 December 2011 the Di Rupo I Government was sworn in.[12] De Wever and the N-VA were not included in the makeup of this government.[13]

Regarding the 25 May 2014 federal election, PS party leader Elio Di Rupo noted that his party will be unwilling to enter into a dialogue with De Wever and the N-VA regarding forming a new federal government.[14]


Former Prime Minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives at the launch of Bart De Wever's book Het kostbare weefsel ("the precious fabric [of society]") in 2008.

In 1996, he was photographed attending a conference held by the French extreme-right Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.[15] De Wever justified his attendance by arguing that "in a democracy everyone should have the right to express his opinion, even if it's an opinion I detest. And I always prefer to get my information first hand than to get it in a filtered way."

In October 2007, in reaction to the apology of the Mayor of Antwerp for his city's collaboration in the deportation of Jews during World War II, Bart De Wever said that:

"Antwerp did not organise the deportation of the Jews, it was the victim of Nazi occupation ... Those who were in power at the time had to take tricky decisions in difficult times. I don't find it very courageous to stigmatise them now."[16]

He later issued an apology to representatives of Antwerp's Jewish community.[17] Following these events, in an op-ed published in Le Monde, the Belgian French-speaking writer Pierre Mertens claimed that Bart De Wever was a "convinced negationist leader". De Wever sued Mertens for this allegation.[18][19]

In July 2016, he called Angela Merkel personally responsible for the "mess she, herself has created" in relation to the 2016 terrorist attacks in Germany. On the radio channel Radio 1, he claimed that Angela Merkel should have led a European military coalition against ISIS/ISIL in 2015, that she was not a true leader, and insinuated that she could have partially prevented the attacks.[20] De Wever was criticized for this by the leader of the SP.A, John Crombez, who said to be ashamed for the claim that Merkel would be the cause of the "great problems in Europe". De Wever's remarks were also countered by other Belgian politicians,[21] as well as by a Flemish journalist.[22] De Wever also claimed that Merkel has caused the rise of Donald Trump, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen.[23]

Death threats and illness

In December 2013, the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws received a bullet in the post with a letter addressed to Bart De Wever, apparently from a communist extremist. De Wever received police protection.[24]

In November 2013, De Wever was admitted to hospital with severe anxiety and chest pains.[25] He was readmitted into an intensive care unit in February 2014 with a severe lung infection.[26]

Panda suits

In March 2014, Bart De Wever made a live appearance at the Flemish television awards, dressed in a Panda suit; a reference to a decision by the Di Rupo government to import two pandas (Hao Hao and Xing Hui [nl]) at a cost per panda greater than the legal maximum director's salary in Belgium.[27][28] Nevertheless, because those pandas are initially gifts from the People's Republic of China, Di Rupo thought of it as impolite to refuse.[29]


  1. ^ "Bart De Wever". www.dekamer.be (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Bart De Wever". www.vlaamsparlement.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Samenstelling van de Senaat (Legislatuur 2010-2014)". www.senat.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Bart De Wever behaalde 785.776 voorkeurstemmen". Knack (in Dutch). 14 June 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  5. ^ "De Wever ook koning van de voorkeurstemmen". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 13 June 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  6. ^ Auteur: llo. "Bart De Wever praat met eerste minister David Cameron - Het Nieuwsblad". Nieuwsblad.be. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  7. ^ "De Wever has "a good conversation" with Cameron". Deredactie.be. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  8. ^ http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/flemish-nationalists-tread-cautiously-on-scottish-independence-vote/article/403039
  9. ^ "Belgium's 'Black Sunday' sees far-right surge, threatens new government crisis". Euractive. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Belgium's far-right not ruled out of potential coalition". The Brussels Times. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  11. ^ "De politieke roots van Bart De Wever" (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  12. ^ "New government sworn in at Laken Castle". FlandersNews.be. 6 December 2011. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  13. ^ Belgium close to governing coalition after 18-month gap, BBC News, December 2011
  14. ^ (in Dutch) In Europe, we are one of the top countries, De Standaard, May 2014
  15. ^ Pierre Gilissen, La photo qui énerve Bart de Wever Archived 2010-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, Le Soir, 31 August 2007.
  16. ^ A Belgian leader flirts with the far-right, blog post by 'Charlemagne', 31 October 2007, hosted by The Economist.
  17. ^ Flemish nationalist politician apologizes to Antwerp Jews Archived November 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, European Jewish Press, October 2007.
  18. ^ (in Dutch) Le Soir daagt De Wever uit, De Standaard, 8 July 2008.
  19. ^ (fr) Bart de Wever attaque Pierre Mertens, La Dernière Heure, 8 July 2008.
  20. ^ "De Wever: "Merkel heeft deze puinhoop zelf veroorzaakt". Wir schaffen das". De Morgen. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  21. ^ "'Wereldleider met grootste ballen is een vrouw'. Ook positieve geluiden vanuit Belgische politiek na Merkels 'Wir schaffen das'". De Standaard. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  22. ^ Fidal, Koen (28 July 2016). "Merkel heeft meer lef dan alle andere Europese staatsleiders samen". De Morgen. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  23. ^ "De Wever: 'Merkel heeft weg geplaveid voor Trump, Wilders en Le Pen'". De Standaard. Vluchtelingencrisis. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  24. ^ Michael Torfs. "Het Laatste Nieuws receives bullet for Bart De Wever". Deredactie.be. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  25. ^ Michael Torfs (2013-11-21). "Bart De Wever hospitalised". Deredactie.be. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  26. ^ "Bart De Wever ligt opnieuw in het ziekenhuis" (in Dutch). Demorgen.be. 2014-02-13. Archived from the original on 2014-05-10. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  27. ^ "Panda De Wever valt van podium | VTM NIEUWS" (in Dutch). Nieuws.vtm.be. 2014-03-15. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  28. ^ Anja Otte. "Fifth column: Bring in the pandas | Flanders Today". Flanderstoday.eu. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  29. ^ Belga (21 February 2014). ""Le prêt des pandas à Pairi Daiza : un coût de 10 millions"" (in French). Le soir. Retrieved 29 July 2014.

External links

Media related to Bart De Wever at Wikimedia Commons

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