Big separatist gains in Belgian polls, tough-talking nationalist in limelight
BRUSSELS (AFP/REUTERS/AP) - Mr Bart De Wever, whose Flemish separatist N-VA party scored a major poll victory on Sunday in Antwerp, Belgium's economic heart, is a media-savvy, tough-talking operator distrusted by his French-speaking countrymen.
Boosted by the victory in Antwerp, his home town, Mr De Wever is now firmly in the national driving seat ahead of parliamentary polls in 2014, having emerged on the political scene just seven years ago.
Mr De Wever has made no secret of his plans to unseat what he sees as an "illegitimate" federal government in Brussels led by Socialist Elio Di Rupo, and now seeks maximum autonomy for the Flemish-speaking north in a new "confederation."
Nearly 42, married and with four children, he is a determined man - in eight months up until July, he lost an incredible 60 kilogrammes to remake his image, forgoing frites (fries) and cream-laden waffles to emerge as lean and sharply dressed on the hustings.