Municipal and provincial elections in Belgium

A very quick and summary update on the municipal and provincial elections in Belgium, which get more and more complicated what with all the “cartels”. 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 won’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 it’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 it’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 haven’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 ‘number person’ I cannot believe I did not make any mistakes in this post. But I am too tired to read it all again and I’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?

9 thoughts on “Municipal and provincial elections in Belgium

  1. I thought it was predicted by VLD figures back in the early 2000s that giving the vote to third country nationals would push Flemish voters more and more into the arms of the VB. You suggest that the immigrant vote may have held up the rise of the VB. It’s going to be hard to prove one way or the other. Will figures be released on who voted for whom, in terms of ethnic or national background? And do you know where I can find out the final figures on the numbers of third country nationals who actually registered to vote? Ta.

  2. Bondwoman, I am not sure if we’ll get figures on these but if I find something I’ll let you know.

  3. Thanks so much! was directed here from EU Referendum. Couldn’t get Le Soir’s election thingeys to work properly on my computer last night.

  4. Hmm, actually I do not agree with Guy that VB’s rise is not stemmed (at least for the time being).

    See Lies, statistics and preconceptions.

  5. eulogist: LS&P makes a comparison with the 2004 “federal” elections instead of comparing the results with the 2000 municipal elections. Federal or regional elections have different dynamics. This year VB advanced in all the provinces.

    Analyzing polling results is very difficult, so you may be right after all, I do not know. But you have to look at the circumstances as well as the figures. One big scandal before an election can cause significant shifts, for instance. Or not, as in Wallony this year.

    So, compared to 2000 VB definitely advanced. Compared to 2004, in other elections, it did not advance, but how significant is this? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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