Flemish Socialist Party leader Conner Rousseau resigned Friday evening after he recently came under fire for racists from fellow party members for remarks he made in September about the Roma community.
On Friday evening, the Brussels’ section of his party called for Rousseau’s resignation during the party’s extraordinary meeting, according to Dutch news.
In September, Rousseau made racist remarks to a police officer about “all that brown scum,” xenophobic remarks that led to calls for resignation from several Belgian public officials against the now-ousted president of the Vooruit party, according to Dutch news Nieuwsblad. He later claimed he was drunk and apologized.
“These statements are absolutely unacceptable,” Brussels MP Els Rochette said.
Other officials chimed in on Thursday before his resignation.
“Racist statements are never to be tolerated. But [they are] totally unacceptable for a leader of a socialist party because they are contrary to the core values of equality and solidarity,” Emilie Peeters, the municipal councilor of Vooruit in Ghent said Thursday evening on social media.
“The president should now step aside and reflect on his statements,” Peeters added.
When Rousseau later gave his resignation, he added a parting shot. “I made a serious mistake,” Rousseau said on Friday evening, according to Belgium outlet RTBF. “Today’s challenges are too great, Vooruit’s struggle will continue without me.”
And instead of distancing themselves from their leader, the party thanked Rousseau from what seemed to be the official party account on X, posting a picture of the now-ousted leader, with a caption reading: “Thank you for making Flanders believe in socialism again. Thank you for always putting the social struggle first. Okay, now again. Moderate and responsible. We fight on,” they said.
This wasn’t the first time Rousseau came under fire for comments some have deemed racist. Last year, he was criticized for controversial comments about the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek when he said he doesn’t feel like he is in Belgium when he drives through the neighborhood.
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