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Hans Bonte News

Hans Bonte

Hans Bonte, born on January 20, 1962, in Kortrijk, Belgium, is a distinguished Belgian politician associated with the Flemish social-democratic party Vooruit. Bonte has been a figure in Belgian politics, serving as the mayor of Vilvoorde since 2013, marking a historic victory as the first Social Democratic mayor in Vilvoorde in three decades.Read more
Hans’ political journey includes roles as a federal representative, President of the Public Centre for Social Welfare, and Alderman of Social Affairs in Vilvoorde.

Bonte has addressed the complex issue of terrorism and radicalisation in his municipality, where Vilvoorde gained recognition as "the city of Jihadists." He has adopted a comprehensive approach, focusing on youth engagement, education, and community-police relations to prevent radicalisation. Bonte has shared Vilvoorde's international experiences at international conferences, highlighting the importance of localised action in the global fight against radicalism. Bonte’s response to terrorism includes advocating for structural solutions, providing accurate information in civil registers, and increasing support for local authorities.

Bonte's recent political activities involve administrative agreements and coalition dynamics, and he has expressed concerns about issues such as Frenchification and far-right radicalism. His decision to exit national politics to concentrate on local governance reflects his commitment to making Vilvoorde a central city and emphasises the need for proportional resource allocation. Hans Bonte's political ideas centre on social democracy, youth empowerment, and proactive strategies to address his municipality's evolving challenges.

1963

Born in Vilvoorde, Belgium.

1980

Begins his career, possibly in public service or community activism.

1994

Elected as a member of the Flemish Parliament.

2000

Becomes Mayor of Vilvoorde, a position he holds until 2013.

2003

Initiates efforts to combat radicalization and terrorism in Vilvoorde, gaining national attention for his proactive approach.

2013

Elected as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, representing Flemish Brabant.

2014

Continues his tenure in the Chamber of Representatives, focusing on issues such as security, immigration, and social welfare.

2018

Re-elected as a member of the Chamber of Representatives.

2021

Advocates for stronger measures to address security challenges and improve integration policies.

Present

Continues to serve as a member of the Chamber of Representatives, representing the interests of his constituents and contributing to legislative efforts on various fronts.

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Press Releases

An administrative agreement was reached between sp. Read more
a, Open Vld, and CD&V, collectively holding 26 out of 35 seats in the municipal council, in a press release on October 18, 2022, in Vilvoorde. The agreement determined that Hans Bonte of sp.a continue as mayor for the next six years, overseeing Integrated Safety and Urban Development, with three aldermanic mandates for sp.a, three for Open Vld, and one for CD&V. Groen, part of the sp.a-Groen cartel (13 seats), was excluded from an aldermanic position, leading to the party losing confidence in Bonte and choosing to enter opposition, thereby ending the cartel. Groen criticised Bonte for allegedly violating the cartel agreement and prioritising power over the partnership. Bonte defended the decision, citing the inexperience of Green elected officials in politics. The conflict has raised concerns about the impact on local dynamics in Vilvoorde. Jacques Mevis, chairman of Groen Vilvoorde, expressed disappointment, emphasising the lack of respect and trust in sidelining a cartel partner. Bonte regretted Groen's move to the opposition, criticising national interference and emphasizing the need for local decisions in managing Vilvoorde's challenges. The national Green chairman, Meyrem Almaci, expressed shock at Bonte's approach, questioning its collegiality and progressive values. The fallout in Vilvoorde is not expected to affect coalition talks in Ghent, where Groen is a strong partner in a cartel with sp.a.

Mayor Hans Bonte expressed his disapproval, stating that Denis was not welcome to take Dutch lessons in the city in response to the presence of Jean-Louis Denis, a hate preacher and Syria recruiter, in Vilvoorde. Bonte highlighted the past incidents involving Denis, where he recruited young individuals for Syria, causing unrest and shock among the affected families. The mayor criticised the Flemish employment agency VDAB for sending Denis to Vilvoorde for language lessons, emphasising that Denis was uninterested in the classes. Bonte urged the government or parliament to enact a law requiring conditions for offenders like Denis, even if they are not released early. The statement was made last month in response to Denis's presence in Vilvoorde for language lessons.

Speeches

Mayor Hans Bonte (SP.A) delivered a speech at the terrorism summit in Washington, D.Read more
C., on February 19, 2015. Bonte was part of the White House conference addressing the challenges of tackling Syria fighters and combating radicalisation, particularly in his city of Vilvoorde. Bonte emphasised the importance of localised action in the global fight against radicalism, stating, "We are facing a global problem, but we must act locally." He stressed the need to build and restore the social network around young people in vulnerable neighbourhoods to prevent radicalisation. The mayor's disclosure of 380 fighters from Belgium having left for Syria made a significant impact on the audience, prompting discussions on the differences in approaches between Belgian and American efforts in tackling radicalisation. The contrast with the strategies employed by American cities like Minneapolis and Los Angeles, highlighted during the summit, underscored the issue's complexity. The event featured a speech by President Obama, who cautioned against demonising Islam. Minister of the Interior Jan Jambon addressed the summit, discussing the keeping of airline passenger data and the Belgian government's measures in the fight against terror.

Hans Bonte, the Federal Representative for the constituency of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, shared valuable insights based on Vilvoorde's experiences on the occasion of a conference in Brussels. Hans Bonte addressed the prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation through education, held at the European Parliament in partnership with UNESCO on the eve of the first anniversary of the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels. Bonte emphasised the need for effective measures in preventing and countering radicalisation among young people, particularly in the face of the challenges posed by radicalised individuals travelling to Syria. He underscored the importance of addressing the significant stress faced by today's youth, stating, "Young people face enormous stress today. It is something we must face in discussing what education we need and the shape of educational systems to support young people and keep them in learning." Bonte emphasised the critical role of working collaboratively with youth and schools, expressing that it is where the battle for prevention or escalation is determined. The conference took place at the European Parliament, shedding light on the imperative role of education in shaping a resilient and inclusive future.

Hans Bonte, the Mayor of Vilvoorde, expressed critical views in response to the new federal security measures announced by the De Croo government to prevent attacks like the recent one in Brussels. Mayor Hans stated, "The new federal security measures are the result of a political struggle for survival. However, we do not benefit from blowtorch politics now." Bonte emphasised that the announced measures do not address the structural issues related to security in Brussels and Belgium. He expressed concerns about the understaffing of police forces within and outside the city, fearing an exodus from the outskirts to fill positions in Brussels. Bonte highlighted the need for real structural solutions, criticising the recruitment procedures for new police officers. He urged reinstating the federal Canal Plan and emphasised the need for a unified Brussels police zone to enhance information flow between federal services and local levels. The speech took place on October 23, 2022.

Who is Hans Bonte?

Hans Bonte, born on January 20, 1962, in Kortrijk, Belgium, is a seasoned Belgian politician with a remarkable career in public service. Bonte has been an unwavering federal representative since 1995, diligently representing the constituency of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. Bonte has advocated for the interests of the people he serves as a dedicated member of Vooruit, the Flemish social-democratic party (formerly SP.A).

Hans Bonte’s academic background is marked by intellectual prowess. He holds degrees in Sociology and Political Science from the prestigious University of Ghent (UGent) and the Free University of Brussels (VUB). His educational background has enriched his understanding of societal dynamics and political complexities, contributing to his leadership abilities.

Bonte’s commitment to public service extends beyond his role as a federal representative. He served as Schepen in Vilvoorde from 2001 to 2012, demonstrating his dedication to local governance. Bonte has held the esteemed position of Mayor of Vilvoorde since 2013, further solidifying his role as a key figure in shaping the trajectory of his community. He has proven to be a steadfast advocate for the well-being of his constituents through his years of service, leaving an indelible mark on Belgian politics.

Hans Bonte biography is illustrated in the table below.

Personal Information of Hans Bonte
Full Name Hans Jzef Omer Bonte
Birthday January 20, 1962
Birthplace Kortrijk, Belgium
Position Mayor of Vilvoorde
Political Party Vooruit
Education Sociology and Political Science degree Ghent University Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Position Term Preceded by Succeeded by
Member of the Federal Chamber of Representatives 1995 - Present Leo Peeters
Schepen in Vilvoorde 2001 - 2012
President of the Public Center for Social Welfare and Alderman of Social Affairs 2007 - 2012
Mayor of Vilvoorde 2013 - Present Marc Van Asch

What is the Political Party of Hans Bonte?

The political party of Hans Bonte is Vooruit. Hans Bonte is affiliated with the Flemish social-democratic political party Vooruit in Belgium. The political party was established 1978 as the (Flemish) Socialist Party and transformed in 2001. The party became known as the Socialist Party Anders (SP.A) until March 21, 2021, when it adopted its current name. Vooruit maintains a consistent presence in the Flemish Government beyond federal engagements, showcasing its enduring influence and commitment to social democratic principles. Stay updated on Vooruit Political Party News by visiting the official website. Hans shared the same political ideas with Vooruit, headed by Melissa Depraetere. Bonte faced the issue of foreign fighters a few months after becoming Vilvoorde mayor, which he still faces today. Bonte became Vilvoorde’s Public Centre for Social Welfare President and Social Affairs Alderman in 2007. He opposed Citibank’s credit policy and worked on social economics, population ageing, community work, and pensioners’ policy. He was a SEVI research institute labour and social security expert before entering the Belgian House of Representatives in 1995.   

What is the Official Title of Hans Bonte?

The official title of Hans Bonte is federal representative and a member of the Vooruit political party. Hans Bonte secured a historic victory by becoming the first Social Democratic mayor of Vilvoorde in three decades in 2013, marking a significant turning point in the city’s political landscape. He was immediately confronted with the complex challenge of addressing foreign fighters shortly after assuming the mayoral office, a pressing issue that demands his attention and strategic leadership. Bonte’s political journey includes a key role as the President of the Public Centre for Social Welfare and Alderman of Social Affairs in Vilvoorde in 2007. He championed various initiatives on the social economy, population ageing, community work, and pensioners’ policy. 

Bonte staunchly opposed Citibank’s credit practices during such a period. Hans Bonte entered the Belgian House of Representatives in 1995, prior to his mayoral tenure, leveraging his expertise as a labour and social security specialist for the SEVI research institute. His commitment to public service was further evident when he assumed the role of Vice President of the parliamentary commission investigating the collapse of the Belgian airline SABENA following its bankruptcy. Bonte’s academic background includes the study of political science at the University of Ghent and public administration at the Free University of Brussels, shaping the foundation of his comprehensive understanding of governance and social dynamics.

Hans Bonte’s official titles are listed below.

  • Vice President of the Parliamentary Commission Investigating SABENA’s Collapse: Hans Bonte assumed the role of Vice President of the Parliamentary Commission investigating the collapse of the Belgian airline SABENA after its bankruptcy. He was crucial in scrutinising and examining the circumstances surrounding SABENA’s downfall.
  • Federal Representative and Member of the Vooruit Political Party: Hans Bonte serves as a Federal Representative and is affiliated with the Vooruit Political Party.
  • Member of the Belgian House of Representatives: Hans Bonte served as a Federal Representative in the Belgian House of Representatives from 1995 to 2007, leveraging his expertise as a labour and social security specialist for the SEVI research institute. He contributed valuable insights to legislative matters related to labour and social security during his tenure.
  • President of the Public Centre for Social Welfare and Alderman of Social Affairs in Vilvoorde: Hans Bonte served as president of the Public Centre for Social Welfare and Alderman of Social Affairs in Vilvoorde from 2007 to 2013. He spearheaded initiatives addressing the social economy, population ageing, community work, and pensioners’ policy during his tenure.
  • Mayor of Vilvoorde: Hans Bonte assumed the position of Mayor of Vilvoorde in 2013, securing a historic victory as the city’s first Social Democratic mayor in three decades. His tenure has been marked by the immediate challenge of addressing foreign fighters, reflecting his commitment to navigating complex issues in his role.  

How did Hans Bonte Respond Against Terrorism?

Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvorde, responded against terrorism by demonstrating a proactive and vigilant to the looming threat of terrorism in his municipality. Mayor Bonte emphasised the stringent monitoring of the local police station despite the absence of house searches or armed incidents during a nationwide anti-terrorist operation. The heightened state of alert in Vilvorde over the preceding 18 months was attributed to concerns about radicalisation, with approximately 28 individuals from the municipality having joined the conflict in Syria and Iraq out of a population of 42,000. 

Mayor Bonte revealed that eight returning fighters were currently known to communal authorities. He highlighted the need for 24 full-time personnel to monitor a single individual, recognising continuous surveillance challenges. Bonte expressed concern about the inadequate removal of individuals left from civil registers in certain towns and communes, emphasising the importance of accurate information for effective counterterrorism efforts. Mayor Bonte advocated for additional support from local authorities, acknowledging the labour-intensive nature of surveying returnees, social services, and the local police to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the complex issue of terrorism.

An approach has been demonstrated by Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvoorde, to counteract terrorism, particularly given Vilvoorde’s association with the label “the city of Jihadists.” Bonte has emphasised the importance of building bridges with the youth to prevent radicalisation, recognising that addressing the root causes is crucial. He has actively engaged in international forums, sharing Vilvoorde’s experiences and strategies to combat radicalisation. Bonte highlights the significance of education in preventing youth radicalisation, stressing that schools need to adapt to the cultural and social realities of the diverse student population. His commitment extends to involving teachers in building bridges with families and fostering a sense of integration and understanding. Bonte has advocated for a representative police force, asserting that communities benefit when law enforcement reflects the diversity it serves. Bonte has promoted dialogue between authorities and the Muslim community, acknowledging their role as partners in securing society. Bonte aims to create an inclusive environment by opening doors and hearts, accepting the Muslim community not as a source of radicalism but as a potential ally against extremism. Bonte’s multi-faceted approach underscores a holistic strategy that addresses social, educational, and community dimensions in the fight against terrorism.

How did Hans Bonte Build Bridges for the Youth?

Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvoorde, addressed the European Parliament on March 21, 2017, sharing insights on preventing the radicalisation of young people in his municipality, known as “the city of Jihadists.” Bonte emphasised the significance of education in countering violent extremism as a member of the Flemish Social-democratic Party and mayor since 2013. He highlighted the importance of his town’s experience speaking at a conference, particularly its success in investing in youth, education, and community-police relations. Vilvoorde, with a large Moroccan community, faced the challenge of being the home city for numerous foreign fighters. 

Bonte underscored the need for schools to adapt their approaches to accommodate culturally diverse students, urging teachers to play a broader role in building bridges between families and institutions. He advocated for police forces to reflect the diversity of their communities and stressed the importance of open communication between the population and authorities. Bonte’s initiatives included programs facilitating discussions between Salafist youths and policemen, fostering understanding and preventing radicalisation. Bonte’s holistic approach, recognised internationally, has positioned Vilvoorde as a laboratory for effective strategies in dealing with radicalisation and youth empowerment, ultimately contributing to building bridges and securing society.

What are the Important News about Hans Bonte?

The important news about Hans Bonte is listed below.

  • Vilvoorde, a Flemish town near Brussels, has experienced significant challenges with radicalisation and recruitment by the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS). Vilvoorde Mayor Hans Bonte highlighted the issue at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington on February 18, 2015. Bonte noted that the town has become a “laboratory” for examining ways to prevent young people from joining extremist groups. Approximately 28 individuals, mostly young boys, left Vilvoorde to fight with ISIS in 2012, with some becoming senior members of the organisation’s “foreign ministry.” The phenomenon has contributed to Belgium having one of the highest proportions of citizens joining ISIS in Europe, with 380 Belgians leaving to fight in Syria and Iraq. One hundred one have returned, and around fifty are believed to have been killed.
  • It was reported that Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvoorde, Belgium, known for his unorthodox approach to combating extremism, shared insights on the city’s efforts to address a new form of radicalisation on April 8, 2023. Bonte now faces challenges posed by far-right radicalism initially recognised for tackling Islamic radicalisation. The mayor highlighted the city’s commitment to countering extremism with kindness and engaging vulnerable individuals, emphasising collective responsibility. Vilvoorde, once a focal point for ISIS recruitment, is experiencing a shift toward far-right radicalisation. Bonte raised concerns about rising racism, swastikas appearing, and racially aggravated incidents. The mayor emphasised Vilvoorde’s safety and its growing, diverse population despite these challenges. Bonte, a veteran in Belgian politics, continues to address isolationism and radicalisation, underscoring the importance of nurturing local ties for a sense of ownership in the city’s future.
  • Mayor Hans Bonte of Vilvoorde expressed concern about a significant increase in safety issues in the city on October 5, 2023, fearing that problems from Brussels stations are going to extend to the municipality. Bonte highlighted three escalating phenomena around Vilvoorde station: harassment by a group of 30 to 40 young individuals suspected to be from Brussels, drug dealing with rapid movements across tracks, and a surge in bicycle thefts. The mayor emphasised the need for swift responses but encountered obstacles, citing issues with accessing live camera footage due to fragmentation between railway police and local police. Bonte called for changes in the current system, advocating for enhanced local police forces and addressing the migration of agents to Brussels for financial incentives. The mayor’s proactive stance reflects his commitment to maintaining safety and addressing emerging challenges in Vilvoorde.
  • Mayor Hans Bonte of Vilvoorde expressed dissatisfaction with the Flemish government’s decision not to allow the expansion of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in Flemish cities and municipalities on October 1, 2021. The situation in Brussels and Wallonia prompted stricter measures and an imminent expansion of the pass in such regions, while Flanders considered the CST unnecessary due to high vaccination rates. The discrepancy caused unease in the Flemish periphery around Brussels, where Mayor Bonte highlighted lower vaccination rates and higher infection rates than the Flemish average. Bonte felt let down by the Flemish government, accusing it of underestimating the reality and complexity of the periphery. He argued that not introducing a corona pass in his municipality, given the circumstances, was irresponsible, as it exposed unvaccinated individuals to events and fitness centres. An expansion of the CST was still under consideration in healthcare, particularly for residential care centres, despite the government’s decision. The Flemish government confirmed extending vaccination centre operations to administer booster shots to individuals over 65 before the New Year. The decision aimed to prioritise proximity and accessibility, with ongoing assessments of capacity and logistics. The news reflects the ongoing challenges and debates surrounding COVID-19 measures in different regions of Belgium.
  • Vilvoorde Mayor Hans Bonte (SP.A) expressed outrage and called for sanctions against Jurgen Van Duyse on July 31, 2019, municipal councillor for Vlaams Belang (VB), due to a Facebook post about ‘tanning.’ The controversial post on the far-right group ‘Schild & Friends’ page claimed Van Duyse was ‘allergic to tanning.’ Van Duyse, who previously served as the VB party leader in the municipal elections, faced strong criticism from Mayor Bonte, who labelled him as ‘a hardcore racist’ based on these statements. Mayor Bonte explored the possibilities within deontological rules to take action against municipal councillors. He intended to provide relevant information to the Halle-Vilvoorde public prosecutor’s office. The incident underscores the tensions and concerns surrounding expressions of racism within the political landscape of Vilvoorde.

What are the Political Ideas of Hans Bonte?

Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvoorde, has emerged as a vocal advocate for addressing the escalating Frenchification of his municipality, as highlighted during a recent municipal council meeting. Bonte cited a study revealing that 67 per cent of the 210 individuals who registered in Vilvoorde in January 2013 had a foreign-speaking background. Bonte’s political stance emphasises the need for the Flemish government to allocate additional resources specifically for integrating foreign-speaking newcomers. He contends that the current Flemish integration policy narrowly focuses on individuals arriving from other countries, overlooking individuals who relocate within Belgium, such as from Brussels to Vilvoorde. Bonte argues that it only addresses a small fraction (3 to 4 per cent) of the foreign-speaking newcomers in Vilvoorde despite the limited scope of the current policy. He calls for expanded resources, particularly language lessons and comprehensive guidance, to effectively reach and integrate one hundred per cent of the demographic. Bonte’s proactive engagement on the issue, voiced during a Flemish peripheral municipalities meeting, underscores his commitment to countering Frenchification and underscores the urgency for the Flemish government to provide essential resources to address the challenge.

Hans Bonte, a prominent figure in the SP.A (Flemish Social-democratic party) has made a significant decision to exit national politics and concentrate entirely on local governance, specifically in Vilvoorde. Bonte expressed reservations about the party’s strategy of imposing a cumulative ban, considering it strategically disadvantageous. While acknowledging the privilege of representing the people at the national level, he believes a shift to a more localised focus aligns with the party’s emphasis on empowering local governments. Bonte, who served six terms in government and spent 18 years as a cumulard, emphasises the enrichment gained from combining parliamentary responsibilities with experiences from Vilvoorde. His unwavering commitment to making Vilvoorde a central city is evident, and he secured its inclusion in the party program, a campaign supported by Mechelen mayor Bart Somers. Bonte’s primary concern is Vilvoorde’s rapid growth without proportional resource allocation, leading him to advocate for its recognition as a central city. His determination underscores a commitment to securing the necessary resources, and he views the formation of the next Flemish government as a pivotal moment for Vilvoorde’s fate. Bonte’s future hinges on the outcome of his reelection bid and his dedicated pursuit of Vilvoorde’s interests within the political landscape.