A very quick and summary update on the municipal and provincial elections in Belgium, which get more and more complicated what with all the â€œcartelsâ€. The general idea is one of power consolidation for the ruling parties, with the Christian Democrats and Flemish nationalists the big winners in Flanders and the Socialist Party getting away nicely in the Walloon provinces.
The cartel CD&V/N-VA (Christian-Democrats plus the nationalist party New Flemish Alliance) and the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang are the big winners, a major upset in the city of Antwerp notwithstanding, where the cartel of the Socialist Party/Spirit (Spirit are lefty liberals) made a 15.8% jump to become the largest party with 35.3% of the votes at the expense of Vlaams Belang. Vlaams Belang, who wonâ€™t be getting the mayor’s seat, improved their score slightly with 0.5% to a total of 33.5% in that city. However, Vlaams Belang scored big time in some of the suburbs, getting up to 43.5% of the votes in, for instance, Deurne. According to Vlaams Belang the status quo in Antwerp City is, in fact, a victory. Legal immigrants got to vote for the first time and may very well have stemmed the steady rise of VB a little bit. We do not know for sure, since there are no data on who voted for whom. Also, VB says, many of their traditional voters (Flemish white people) moved to the suburbs and could therefore not vote in Antwerp City. This makes sense, given the success of VB in the subs. Immigrant voting rights and traditional voters moving away from Antwerp City could both have been serious drawbacks for VB, yet the party consolidated its position and even improved it by 0.5%. Add to that the fact that VB ran in more municipalities, and successfully since they are up 4.4% compared to 2000, and you get the idea. They are not defeated, they are just spreading out.
The big losers are the VLD, liberals in the European sense and also a cartel since they teamed-up with Vivant. The Green Party also got hit.
In Wallony the big surprise is that the Socialist Party did not experience a major meltdown, recent scandals about corruption notwithstanding. In fact, the socialists even won big time in Brussels. The highly splintered right-wing parties there made some progress, but nothing too significant.
As for the Flemish provinces, Vlaams Belang (28.5%) jumped over CD&V/N-VA (26.5%) to become the biggest party in the provincial council of Antwerp. Both, and also the Socialist Party/Spirit cartel, gained seats at the expense of the VLD and the Green Party.
In the provincial council of Limburg CD&V/N-VA(+2.4%) remain the largest ruling cartel, followed by SP/Spirit, VLD/Vivant (-3.3%) and lastly Vlaams Belang (+6.9%). In East-Flanders CD&V/N-VA jump over VLD/Vivant to become the dominating cartel with Vlaams Belang a very close third in votes (+6.3%) but second in seats (+8). In Flemish-Brabant itâ€™s CD&V/N-VA in first place (+5.5%), VLD/Vivant in second (-5.4%) and Vlaams Belang third (+6.2%). In West Flanders itâ€™s once again CD&V/N-VA in first place (+4.0%) with SP/Spirit moving to second and Vlaams Belang moving to third place (+6.8% and +9 seats).
All these numbers may bore the hell out of you, but they are important since they show the current trends in Flanders. To summarize: Big victory for CD&/N-VA and for Vlaams Belang, big loss for the liberals.
In Wallony the SP generally got away nicely with all sorts of things that are not so nice, like giving jobs to friends etcetera, and the extreme right is making slow progress. I havenâ€™t followed the elections for the provincial councils in the Walloon provinces, but if you read French you can find everything at Le Soir.
As I am not a â€˜number personâ€™ I cannot believe I did not make any mistakes in this post. But I am too tired to read it all again and Iâ€™ll leave it up to our readers to correct me or to discuss their views on these elections. In short, use this short summary to enlighten us, to cheer or to vent.
Oh, one afterthought. Anyone else thinking that the strong polarisation in Antwerp, with voters basically ditching other parties for either the Socialist Party or Vlaams Belang, could spell trouble for the future in case the reds screw up?