Instead, he has chosen to take up his mayoral post at the end of the year.
His replacement as minister will be party colleague Lydia Peeters (pictured), currently serving a fourth term as mayor of Dilsen-Stokkem in Limburg province. She will pick up Tommelein’s portfolios, and will be replaced as mayor by Sofie Vandeweerd.
Tommelein replaced Annemie Turtelboom in 2016 when she resigned over a controversy over energy surcharges. Then, he came across from the federal government, where he had been secretary of state for social fraud, privacy and the North Sea. He also took up the post, largely nominal, of deputy minister-president; that title will now go to his party colleague Sven Gatz, minister for culture, youth and Brussels affairs.
Peeters, meanwhile, will head the Open VLD list in Limburg for the regional elections in May, which the party hopes will see more women returned to office in the Flemish parliament, as well as the federal parliament, for which elections take place at the same time.
“They asked me on Wednesday, and I said yes right away,” she told Het Belang van Limburg newspaper. “I still have to familiarise myself with the dossiers. My first stop will be in Ostend, to see Bart.”