The Verviers socialists are reorganizing themselves under the gaze of their political opponents. Pierre Demolin, the former director general (communal secretary) of the City of Verviers will take over the presidency of the Union Socialiste Communale. The arrangement does not suit the CDH Jean-François Denis who denounces a “mix of genres” : Pierre Demolin is still appointed to the City. He’s only on leave. The CDH offers him to resign.

We took the opportunity to question Jean-François Denis on the internal divisions at the CDH of Verviers. Half of the humanists (himself and Cécile Ozer) had decided to participate in power with Muriel Targnion. The other half (Marc Elsen and Claude Orban) opposed it. The negotiations between the two parties have also contributed to delay the establishment of the majority of Muriel Targnion and have helped give time to the PS to bring back its lost sheep to the sheepfold. The humanists of Verviers now say they are reconciled. Agree to go to power and agree to go without Muriel Targnion as mayor specifies Jean-François Denis.

We learned that Pierre Demolin was becoming president of the Socialists of Verviers, so at the same time, he will certainly lead the negotiations for the Verviers PS. And when we know that next door, he is general manager of the City of Verviers, admittedly on leave, but he can come back when he wants, that poses a little problem for us. There is clearly a mix of genres. So: either he resigns from his mandate in the City of Verviers, or he becomes president of a political party section. There, I really think we are in the old policy. There is nothing that changes. This is not a good signal for the voter.

By saying that, you are not going to facilitate your party’s negotiations with the PS to form a new municipal majority in Verviers!

Bin yes, but there you go. At the moment there are several things that are happening in the PS. Striking things that are taking place, darrangements, undemocratic tinkering. At some point, it is our duty to denounce it. [Jean-François Denis fait allusion aux systèmes imaginés pour permettre à des échevins qui refuseraient le poste de bourgmestre de rester échevins malgré la loi électorale.]

The CDH is not a candidate to go to power in Verviers with the PS?

We don’t say that, but there are things that bother us. And so with the MR – NV – CDH cartel, we are not ready to accept everything either. For example the solution where we want to install Jean-François Istasse who is seventh on the list of the PS, which made a little more than five hundred votes, and where we will be asked to sign motions of distrust against Hasan Aydin and Sophie Lambert , who has nothing to be ashamed of, that will really pose a problem for us and we will not participate in this subterfuge. In this case, we will not sign.

Malik Ben Achour achieved a much better score than Jean-François Istasse and Sophie Lambert in 2018. With him as mayor, would that work?

The echoes we have is that for the moment, he is not a candidate. I think he enjoys himself as a federal member of Parliament. Now, we also hear that he may well be in ambush to first put Jean-François Istasse as mayor until 2023 and then succeed him to lead the elections for 2024.

Who is answering me? Is it Jean-François Denis or is it all the CDH of Verviers?

This is the entire CDH of Verviers, but we are also on the same wavelength as the other members of the Cartel, the MR and the Nouveau Verviers.

Your party, until recently, was very divided over participation in power with Muriel Targnion.

It is true that we are in a rather complicated moment. On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet for an update. We have agreed on all the major issues. Now at CDH we speak with one voice.

You speak with one voice you say, but it is to go to power without Muriel Targnion?

This is what came out of the negotiation [interne] at the CDH. The management of Muriel Targnion at the head of the City posed a problem for several members of the office and elected CDH. We have reached a consensus: yes in the next political negotiations, Muriel Targnion will no longer be [proposée comme] burgomaster.

Yet you were in favor of it.

I want to be very clear. It is true that there may have been excesses of Muriel Targnion on certain other files. We have talked a lot about Enodia / Publifin, but I find that in this file – but this only involves me – there was a problem of people at the college, there were nevertheless seven members of the college who were against the president of the CPAS Hasan Aydin, who signed a motion against him, Muriel Targnion is committed to defend the voice of his seven colleagues, and finally it turns against her. I find that here the national PS took the opportunity to remove it from its political plans.

Do you intend to come to power in Verviers in the coming days or weeks? If so, with which political partners?

There are several scenarios on the table, including a scenario without the PS. The Cartel could associate with Ecolo and independents, but it is true that there is also another model where the Cartel would agree with the official PS. We have not yet entered into talks. We are in a position of strength and we will not let anyone dictate anything.

If the PS has exploded, it is because there are dissidents on the other side and given the very strained relations at the moment, I do not think that the dissidents will vote with the official PS, and therefore we can count on three dissident members: Muriel Targnion, Alexandre Loffet and Laurie Marechal.

If you go down this path, you risk losing Claude Orban and Marc Elsen!

Oh no, it’s different! Muriel Targnion would no longer lead the town boat. But technically, she could support us as an independent advisor.

And in this case, it is Maxime Degey who would be bourgmestre?

In this scenario where the Cartel joins forces with Ecolo and the independents, yes it is Maxime Degey who would become mayor.

According to the contacts that the RTBF has been able to have these last days with each other, this last scheme will be difficult to set up. To obtain a majority in the municipal council of Verviers, it is necessary to bring together 19 councilors. 6 MR + 4 Nouveau Verviers + 4 CDH + Bernard Piron, that’s 15. With the Ecologists, that would be 19. It’s very fair as a majority to ensure the stability of a college made up of four parties and torn between left and right . Adding Muriel Targnion’s three dissident socialists would make it possible to reach 22 seats, but working with the current mayor and those who have decided to push Hasan Aydin out may well not be suitable for environmentalists from Verviers.

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