In the Netherlands and Belgium, the ruthless universe of female politicians


In the Netherlands, liberal Dilan Yesilgöz would see herself succeeding fellow liberal Mark Rutte as head of government, but another top leader, the current deputy prime minister and finance minister, Sigrid Kaag, a liberal democrat member of the D66 party, leaves the ruthless world of politics. The various threats to which she was subjected so alarmed her daughters, who feared for her life, that she decided to throw in the towel. Returning to her country in 2017, Mme Kaag, a diplomat, believes that this experience has demanded too much of her people. “We thought we were in a tolerant country, but our mother can no longer take to the streets alone”lamented one of her daughters in July.

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In neighboring Belgium, fewer direct threats, but several female politicians have also given up. Between acknowledgment of failure, feeling of helplessness and denunciation of the practices of the environment, their explanations challenge. And are often scathing.

Valérie Van Peel, 42, seemed destined for a bright future in the nationalist Neo-Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party of Bart De Wever. However, she will not be on the lists in the spring of 2024, when the country will elect its federal, regional and European representatives. Vice-president of her party, she hoped to embody the “social”, human side of a conservative party.

She was mainly concerned about the fate of abused children and the many victims of asbestos pollution. The latter, authorized to appeal to a compensation fund, are, on the other hand, always denied the right to bring the companies concerned to justice. The member wanted to modify the limitation periods and extend the scope of the diseases taken into consideration. Right-wing parties blocked the text in order, she said, not to harm the companies concerned. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The political system is blocked. Continuing to bump into immovable walls is no longer healthy for me,” she explained, wondering if we should still hope that politics can change things and concluding: ” I do not believe it anymore. »

Deterioration of the political climate

On the other side of the linguistic “border”, the same observation is made by Catherine Fonck, of the centrist party Les Engagés. Member of Parliament for twenty years, former minister, this 55-year-old nephrologist doctor had the reputation of being “a file woman”. In other words, not to run in front of microphones and cameras and not to summarize the problems in 140 characters on a social network. The crisis due to Covid-19 has, for her, been the indicator of a growing democratic malaise. “I have witnessed a slow and gradual deterioration of the political climate, I am very worried to see the truth manipulated in the name of propaganda”she explained last July to the daily The evening, denouncing debates that often descend into “simplism, populism and, sometimes, extremism”. His conclusion: “I am very worried, I am no longer in my place in this policy, I say to my colleagues: “Wake up”, democracy is dying from within. »

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