Jean-Marie Louis Dedecker
13 June 1952
|Political party||VLD (1999-2006)|
LDD (2007- )
In 1999 and 2003, Dedecker was directly elected to the Belgian Senate. In 2004 Dedecker ran for a seat in the Flemish Parliament, after taking his seat in the Flemish Parliament, Dedecker was elected by his colleagues as a community senator as well. He was a member of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD), before being expelled, and eventually sided with the N-VA party for a brief time in November-December 2006. In January 2007, Dedecker presented his own political party-- Lijst Dedecker--that participated in the 2007 general election. Against all expectations, Lijst Dedecker got 5 elected in Parliament, and 1 in Senate.
Dedecker became well-known first for his long career as a judo coach, with his judokas winning a for Belgium unprecedented number of medals (among them four times Olympian gold), and then for his politics. In 2004, as a pure outsider, he won 38% of the votes for the VLD party leadership against the party establishment. He was expelled from the VLD though in October 2006.
In 2006 (as VLD member) he published a book, Rechts voor de raap, which became a national best-seller.
In 2015, he was awarded the Prize for Liberty by the Flemish classical-liberal thinktank Libera!.
The 2006 Belgian municipal elections were lost by the VLD, also in Ostend, where Dedecker was a candidate. In Ostend, they lost out to the Socialist Party (SP.A), for which party president Johan Vande Lanotte was a candidate in the city. In the run-up to the elections, Vande Lanotte and Dedecker clashed severely, with Dedecker claiming that Vande Lanotte, as councilor and socialist party "strong man," made Ostend the "Palermo of the North Sea." The local VLD party in Ostend, led by Bart Tommelein, does want to pursue a city coalition with the Socialist though. Dedecker however stated, on election night, that the VLD with this result cannot be part of any coalition. Two days later, the national head of the VLD, Bart Somers, intervened, by stating that Dedecker will be removed from the VLD. Somers stated that in the last few days Dedecker has showed himself to be a "inveterate trouble maker who keeps on creating damaging battles in his own party." Dedecker responded that "first they use me to attract votes in the local elections, only to put me on the street once the votes have been counted." Bart Tommelein later on accused Dedecker of being "the largest Calimero of Flemish politics."
It was not unlikely that Dedecker would step over to VLOTT, a party being led by Hugo Coveliers. Coveliers was also a VLD member, but was ejected when he clashed with then party head Karel De Gucht. He openly invited Dedecker to start a VLOTT division in West Flanders. In an opinion article for De Standaard Coveliers wrote: "...I predicted I would not be the last one. There were still some independent minds running around that had to be tamed...Jean-Marie Dedecker goes out the same way: the party leader of the SP.A decides that the VLD has to bring a sacrifice, which the VLD executive eagerly fulfills.... They thereby relinquish themselves of a tough contender. These corruptible politicians would simply not allow any criticism.... There is no one left to oppose them now Dedecker is liquidated.... With his liquidation, the VLD merges left, soon to turn left, to the left side of society. Far away from the original liberal voters and principles." Coveliers claims he was ejected from the VLD on command of (then) SP.A leader Steve Stevaert. Some believe the same thing happened to Dedecker, on command of Socialist Party leader Johan Vande Lanotte.
After being expelled from the VLD Dedecker looked into starting a new liberal party, which might have seen the involvement of Hugo Coveliers of VLOTT, and law professor Boudewijn Bouckaert. He made it clear that he would not join the Vlaams Belang, the largest right wing party of Flanders. In November 2006, Dedecker founded the right-liberal thinkthank Cassandra. On 30 November 2006 it was announced that Dedecker joined the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) on behalf of the N-VA party board, because it proved difficult in Belgium to meet the electoral threshold of 5% with a new party.
The Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V), with whom the N-VA had an electoral cartel agreement, stated they didn't want to be in league with Dedecker and broke off the association. On 9 December 2006, the N-VA party congress decided they preferred the cartel with CD&V over Dedecker; afterwards Dedecker resigned from the party he joined only ten days earlier.
In September 2006, Dedecker told the press that he had the names of three Belgian cyclists, who went to Italy for illegal doping treatments. In January 2007, Belgian cyclist Johan Museeuw admitted that he took stimulants during the last years of his cycling career, and that he confided this earlier to Dedecker. The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws claimed on the basis of various accounts of people close to Quick Step-Innergetic manager Patrick Lefevere, that Lefevere has pushed cyclists to use illegal stimulants. Lefevere is now suing Dedecker for EUR75,000 over his earlier allegations about doping use among Belgian cyclists.
The information Dedecker gave in September 2006 led to house searches throughout Belgium in June 2007 of persons related to cycling. The judiciary found various illegal substances during the search.