Virtually unknown six months ago, she became a “super Sophie” for some. The First belgian minister Sophie Wilmès proved to the favor of the crisis of the coronavirus, even if another tricky part awaits with déconfinement from Monday.
“Frank”, “calm”, “professional”, knowing how to show “empathy”: the media and policy experts have used the same adjectives to describe the leader of the liberal French-speaking 45-year-old in the face of an exceptional situation.
“It is clear that this crisis has done a complete change of stature”, told AFP Vincent Laborderie, a political scientist at the catholic University of Louvain.
“New landscape”, it has an aspect of “non-cleaving” which was pleasing to the Belgians, and “the female side has played as well”, adds this expert, while Belgium has been severely hit by the pandemic (more than 7700 people dead identified on Friday).
For this daughter of an economist a graduate of a school of communication, has accelerated in 2014. Then vice-mayor (deputy) in an average-sized town in the outskirts of brussels, she had the opportunity to be first alternate on a list of his party for the parliamentary elections.
She became mpp with the appointment as minister of the leader of the liberals, Didier Reynders (now european commissioner). Then, she entered the government in 2015, with the portfolio of the Budget, a position where his seriousness and rigour appeal to the Prime minister, Charles Michel, another figure of the liberal French-speaking.
When the latter anticipates the end of October 2019 to his departure for the presidency of the european Council, Sophie Wilmès succeeded him as Prime minister. The mother of four children, then, is the first woman to access to this position in Belgium. Of course, at the head of a government says, “current affairs”, without a majority in Parliament.
“It must not be forgotten, it is a little arrived there by chance,” says Dave Sinardet, professor of political science at the free University Dutch-speaking Brussels (VUB).
And if a kind of national union is formed at the end of march to manage the crisis (vote in the Parliament has granted “special powers” to his coalition in the minority), this should not last beyond three months, in the opinion of the experts.
“Déconfinement of the political game”
The last press conference of Ms. Wilmès, announcing the April 24, easing very progressive of the containment measures, has aroused criticism from opponents muted for a month.
Socialists and environmentalists francophones criticized him for giving preference to the re-opening of the shops starting may 11, at the prospect of reconnecting family ties in small circle, extended to may 18.
Oppose “economic human”, it is to be “completely off the plate,” retorted, scathing, the First minister, recalling that the left-wing parties were associated with the regional government of Brussels and Wallonia (in the south) who had supported the decisions announced.
After the truce, it is “back to normal”, “the déconfinement of the political game”, says Mr Laborderie, anticipating new legislation, “probably the fall”.
From December 2018, when the flemish nationalists of the N-A had ” abandoned the centre-right coalition in power, the Belgium lived without a government for a full fiscal year. A situation that the vote “special powers” on march 27, has been put in parentheses for the moment.
So what is the future of Ms. Wilmès? At the end of march, the daily le Soir hailed the”irresistible ascent” of this woman lanky (over 1.80 m) he dubbed “Super Sophie”.
For Mr. Sinardet, it is definitely become popular, in any case in French, and will be “probably the vice-prime minister of the next government, since his party (MR, reform Movement), located in the centre of the chessboard, should remain one of the pivots.
It is not exposed, cultivated a certain discretion in the media, but “it can also be a strategy”, considers the political scientist flemish, “the lack of ambition has even led her to where she is today.”