Mischaël Modrikamen (born 22 February 1966) is a Belgian lawyer and politician. He is the co-founder and leader of the People's Party. He is the vice-président of the Alliance For Direct Democracy in Europe and the publisher of Le Peuple.

Early life and career

His father Marcel Modrikamen, son of a Polish immigrant who fled anti-Semitism, was arrested by the Gestapo as a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II. He became a political leader and trade unionist in Charleroi after the war. On 18 February 1991, Marcel Modrikamen was victim of a gun attack.[1] He died a few years later of his injuries. According to his son, his father discovered irregularities in the Gailly Institute, a Belgian hospital situated in the Walloon Region. This may have been the reason for the attack.

Mischaël Modrikamen went to school at Couillet and then Charleroi before going to Université libre de Bruxelles, (ULB) where he studied Law and graduated magna cum laude.

Personal life

Mischaël Modrikamen is married to Yasmine Dehaene (born 24 September 1964) since 1997. Yasmine Dehaene is a former member of the Brussels bar and has become General secretary of the Parti Populaire and Executive Director of the ADDE. They have three children : Nathan (born in 1994), Raphaël (born in 1997) and Sasha (born in 2008). During his free time, he often engages into painting, mainly abstract.

Legal career

After a year as trainee with the top American firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, he then moved to Stibbe where he finished his pupilage. He then founded his own firm in 1993, at the age of 27. Modrikamen Law firm became one of the most respected firms for corporate and finance litigation in Belgium.

Mischaël Modrikamen became a specialist in representing shareholders and investors in Belgium in complex corporate litigations. He led major procedures that have marked the recent economic history of Belgium, notably the Fortis case.

In 1997, M. Modrikamen won the first landmark case against lead managers of a Eurobond issue (Confederation Life case). The ruling has since determined the scope of liability for this activity in Europe. He recovered over 200 million euros for bondholders. In 1999 and 2000, he forced the board of target companies in takeover battles to make public the conflict of interests of certain of its members (Suez-Tractebel Case and BNP Paribas-Cobepa case). In 1999, M. Modrikamen has won the largest award ever granted in Belgium which led to a 3 billion euros payment in favour of cooperative shareholders of two merging banks (KBC-CERA merger case).

In 2001, Mischaël Modrikamen represented the Belgian Jewish Community in the negotiation with the banking and insurance sector for looted assets during World War II, securing a 110 million euros settlement.

In 2002, he sued Total and Petrofina on behalf of minority shareholders after the forced squeeze out of Petrofina shareholders and won preliminary injunctions placing shares under a custodian and appointing experts to assess the share price. At the same time, Mischaël Modrikamen has been representing clients in significant transactions for the country, notably in the creation of an independent Electricity grid (a 5 billion euros transaction in 2002) or in the creation of SN Brussels Airlines in 2003 (the national aviation company).

In 2003, he represented shareholders of the National Bank after expropriation of the gold reserves by the Belgian State and In 2005, he represented the activist fund Knight Vincke which forced Suez lo launch a takeover bid on Electrabel, after having obtained a preliminary ruling in favor of the shareholders. In 2007, he obtained the first cancellation award ever granted by the Brussels court of Appeal, nullifying a decision of the competition watchdog (Echo case). In 2008, he represented Fortis shareholders fighting the dismantling of the group. He obtained the suspension of the transaction and the convening of general meetings of shareholders to vote on these transactions. As a result of his action, Fortis was able to retain its insurance arm Ageas. The Belgian government was consequently forced to resign.

In December 2010, Mischaël Modrikamen announced that he would focus on the renovation of the Belgian political life. He announced that he would put an end to his firm and separated from its team of 10 lawyers. He would however lead the Fortis case to its term and retain some limited advising and consultancy activities. In 2013, he nevertheless engaged in a high profile battle against RTL Belgium who fired Luc Trullemans, its famous weather forecaster. M Trullemans had posted critical comments about immigration on Facebook, after a road-traffic incident allegedly involving the immigrant community, although RTL claimed that Trullemans initiated the incident. RTL Belgium had accused M Trullemans of racist comments. M Modrikamen sued RTL Belgium for libel before the commercial court of Brussels and obtained 1 euro in damages by judicial decision of 24 December 2013. RTL Belgium didi not appeal, but symbolic damages of 1 euro represent a slap in the face for the plaintiff.

Political career

As early as the beginning of the years 2000s, Mischaël Modrikamen claimed to be a vocal defender of western democracy and critic of Islamism. He published strong opinions in leading newspapers on this subject.[2] After criticizing what he considered the absence of vision of most Belgian politicians in the Fortis case as well as the absence of a truly conservative party on the Belgian French-speaking political scene, Mischaël Modrikamen announced in June 2009 that he would launch his own political movement.

On 26 November 2009, M. Modrikamen officially created the People's Party (PP,) which, he claimed, was based on the values of justice, responsibility and solidarity.[3] Without substantial funding and with limited access to the media, especially TV debates preceding the elections, the People's Party nevertheless obtained more than 4% of the vote in Brussels and Wallonia and its first Member of Parliament. Some French media, with considerable exaggeration, named him "the Belgian Sarkozy". After the elections, the King consulted Mischaël Modrikamen, along with all the other party leaders, as part of the standard process of assessing the political situation.[4]

In November 2010, Mischaël Modrikamen criticized "reasonable accommodations" when applied with a religious purpose. According to him, adjustments based on religion are "unreasonable" because they tend "to impose multicultural and intercultural values". Moreover, these adjustments are "too influenced by Muslim demands" that are threatening non-negotiable values such as the equality of women and men and the separation between state and religion.[5]

By the end of November 2010, Mischaël Modrikamen announced that the People's Party would be the first French-speaking party to take a confederalist stance in the current political debate.

In June 2010, M. Modrikamen claimed that a "zero tolerance policy" was efficient and had decreased Cureghem's crime rate by 30%.[6] (Cureghem (fr) is a Brussels neighbourhood). In August 2011, M. Modrikamen reacted to the riots that took place in several cities around England. In the newspaper Le Soir, he said this situation was the "premise of a civil war led by minorities".[7] On 2 September 2011, Mischaël Modrikamen declared on Twizz Radio that "Islam as a private religion causes no particular problems, but that Islamism could be a form of fascism ". According to him, a part of the immigrant population "refuses the values on which Europe was built". "We use a plain language which is bothering the established parties. A language that the population has been waiting for so long", he added.[8]

At the end of 2010, he had made public that he would launch a new daily online newspaper with a bimonthly printed version under the name Le Peuple. Le Peuple was one of the oldest title of the Belgian press and belonged initially to the socialist party. Its publication had started on December 13, 1885, and ended in March 1998 because of financial problems.[9] Immediately after this announcement a group of former journalists of Le Peuple tried to block this project by challenging his brand registration.[10] Their action was definitively dismissed by a court of appeal decision issued in 2012. Modrikamen relaunched the daily publication in March 2013.[11][12] The publication reached 4 millions page-views by the end of 2014.

In May 2014, Belgium held European, Regional and Federal elections. The PP was largely ignored and even boycotted by the press, which Modrikamen claimed was in violation of its legal duty to pluralism. The Parti Populaire nevertheless reached 6% at the European election and just less than 5% at the Regional and federal election, which Modrikamen ascribed to the energetic action of its militants. The Parti Populaire managed to get 2 MPs elected. The threshold of 5 percent imposed to the lists in each multi-member constituency limited the gain in seats. M Modrikamen announced that it was prepared to participate in the center-right coalition that was formed afterwards but the MR, the main centrist French-speaking party, refused such coalition with the PP. Modrikamen claimed that this was in order to keep a maximum of ministerial posts for itself but the very small representation of his party in parliament made its participation improbable in any case.

Early 2015, The Parti Populaire formed the Alliance For Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) with the UKIP, VNL, Debout la Republique, the Swedish Democrats and various other individual MPs. M Modrikamen was appointed vice-President. The alliance is a euro-sceptic movement which claims to aim at reinforcing a "Europe of the peoples and sovereign nations".

In March 2015, M Modrikamen was invited on an official visit to Russia by the Russian government and met officials at the Duma. M Modrikamen, himself a strong believer in the transatlantic alliance, nevertheless announced that "we" should find some accommodation with Russia on the Crimea and Ukraine crisis. He believes that the West and Russia have today common enemies to fight, such as ISIS, and that this should be a priority. In April 2015, M Modrikamen visited Sicily at the invitation of local authorities in order to assess the migrants' crisis. He called for a strong policy in order to avoid millions of unqualified migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea, taking into account the terrorist threat and the very high unemployment rate in Europe. He emphasized that 45 million Europeans are already jobless according to official data. M Modrikamen strongly opposes President Junker's proposal to ease migration restrictions and qualifies them, like M Nigel Farage of UKIP, as "one of the most serious threats to our civilisation".


Several books have been published on Mischaël Modrikamen's actions: "Fortis jusqu'au bout", in Dutch "Fortis tot de laatste snik" written by M. Modrikamen and Mr. Charles Bricman on the Fortis case. One would also recommend "Fortis, Dexia, le séisme", "La chute de la maison Fortis" and "Banqueroute", all written by journalists which describe Mischaël Modrikmen's action. A first biography of Mischaël Modrikamen was published in 2009 under the title "Modrikamen Recht door zee" ("Modrikamen straight ahead").