• Thomas Yaw Voets

From being “Different” to moving “Forward”: The rebranding of the Flemish Socialist Party


Photo by Florian van Duyn on Unsplash


Introduction


If one were to believe certain (extreme) right-wing politicians, then one would consider the term “socialism” to be a negatively loaded concept. According to them, “socialists” are economically illiterate, free spending nanny-state[i] lovers, who - as the hypocrites they are - do not walk the talk of their own proposals.[ii] In some countries, this perception even translates to slurs such as champagne socialism, smoked salmon socialism, gauche caviar (the caviar left-wing), and many others. All used as insults to describe self-identified socialists, whose luxurious upper middle-class or "preppy" lifestyles are ostensibly in conflict with their political beliefs.[iii]

While he did not state so explicitly, Conner Rousseau would have undoubtedly had this in the back of his mind at the moment he decided it was time to “modernize” his party. As such, after he became the chairman of the Flemish socialist party in 2019, he instigated a renewal process. Internally, the renewal process meant that the structures and ways of working were to be addressed. Externally, it meant that the party would get a new name, logo, and way of profiling itself.[iv]

In this article, the focus will be