Europe 2009: Belgium

Belgium had a busy election day on June 7, with regional elections for all regional governments (four in total) and European elections. The regional elections overshadowed the Euros by far, due to their possible long-reaching effects on the federal governance of the very divided country.

Regionals

Instead of using the stupid names adopted by the various parties and because I long for a return to the old 1950s political setup in Belgium, I’ve decided to classify the parties as Catholic (the old PSC-CVP – CDV in Flanders, CDH in Wallonia), Liberals (the old Liberal Party – Open VLD in Flanders, MR in Wallonia), and Socialists (the old PSB-BSP – SP.a in Flanders, PS in Wallonia). Do note, however, that while the Liberals and Socialists have links cross-community, the CDV has no relation to the CDH – the CDV has become more and more of a Flemish autonomist (some will say nationalist, even) party and the CDH has gradually abandoned its Catholic Party roots. Other parties include the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang, the conservative New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) [in 2004, the N-VA had an electoral cartel with the CDV] and the Fortuynist Lijst Dedecker; all of which are often considered to be Flemish nationalists.

Flanders (includes 6 from Dutch Group in Brussels)

Note that the Catholics and N-VA had an electoral cartel here, as did the Socialists and the Social Liberals (then called Spirit)

Catholics 22.86% (-3.23%) winning 31 seats (+2)
Vlaams Belang 15.28% (-8.86%) winning 21 seats (-11)
Socialists 15.27% (-4.39%) winning 19 seats (-1)
Liberals 14.99% (-4.80%) winning 21 seats (-4)
New Flemish Alliance 13.06% (new) winning 16 seats (+10)
Lijst Dedecker 7.62% (new) winning 8 seats (+8)
Green 6.77% (-0.83%) winning 7 seats (+1)
Union of Francophones 1.15% (+0.08%) winning 1 seat (±0)
Social Liberals 1.09% (new) winning 0 seats (-5)

Secessionist/Nationalist Parties 35.96% (+11.82%)

The marking thing about the Flemish election is the decline of the major parties (CDV, VLD, SP) at the profit of right-wing nationalist parties, notably the N-VA (a very good result for them) and Dedecker (not so good, compared to polls which had him on 16% not so long ago). The current grand coalition (CDV, VLD, SP, and N-VA) led by Kris Peeters (CDV) will likely continue. However, the N-VA could drop out due to the Socialist’s reticences of working with them. Some have warned that the N-VA’s language policy (force everybody in Flanders, Francos included, to speak Dutch) and nationalism could be dangerous for Flanders’ international standing. However, the CDV base is still very attached to their former electoral partners.

Wallonia

Socialist 32.77% (-4.14%) winning 29 seats (-5)
Liberals 23.41% (-0.89%) winning 19 seats (-1)
Ecolo 18.54% (+10.02%) winning 14 seats (+11)
Catholics 16.14% (-1.48%) winning 13 seats (-1)
FN 2.86% (-5.26%) winning 0 seats (-4)

As in Flanders, the major parties took a hit in Wallonia, but to a lesser extent. The Socialists, yet again involved in scandals, held up remarkably well. While Ecolo’s result is not as good as they might have expected based on some polls which put them second, the party is the only winner in these elections and they’re the kingmakers. The Rudy Demotte (PS) coalition between the PS and the CDH has a majority, but the CDH has been very reticent to continuing it. They had productive talks with the liberal MR and they’re opening talks with the Ecolos, who seem to enjoy the courting they’ve recevied very much. A MR-CDH coalition does not have a majority, but a MR-CDH-Ecolo one obviously does. The MR has flat-out refused to form a grand coalition with the PS. A PS-Ecolo coalition also has a majority.

Brussels – French Seats

Liberals 29.82% (-2.68%) winning 24 seats (-1)
Socialist 26.24% (-7.10%) winning 21 seats (-5)
Ecolo 20.22% (+10.53%) winning 16 seats (+9)
Catholics 14.80% (+0.72%) winning 11 seats (+1)
FN 1.91% (-3.51%) winning 0 seats (-4)

The PS-CDH-Ecolo has a majority, but I doubt it will survive. Here, a MR-Ecolo, MR-CDH-Ecolo, or PS-Ecolo coalition all have majorities. I personally would put my money on a MR-led coalition.

Brussels – Dutch Seats

Liberals 23.07% (+3.17%) winning 4 seats (±0)
Vlaams Belang 17.51% (-16.56%) winning 3 seats (-3)
Socialists 19.46% (+1.78%) winning 4 seats (+1)
Catholics 14.85% (-1.92%) winning 3 seats (±0)
Green 11.20% (+1.4%) winning 2 seats (+1)
New Flemish Alliance 4.99% (new) winning 1 seat (+4)
Lijst Dedecker 3.78% (new) winning 0 seats (±0)

A so-called “Jamaican” coalition (using the German party colours, with black for Catholics and yellow for Liberals) has been formed between the VLD, CDV and Groen. The Flemish community in Brussels has two of the five portfolios and one of the three state secretary jobs but this government will govern the city’s Flemish Community Commission (in charge of linguistic affairs, education, healthcare from Flemings in Brussels). The old government was composed of the VLD and Socialists.

German Community:

Catholics 27.02% (-5.77%) winning 7 seats (-1)
Socialists 19.30% (+0.29%) winning 5 seats (
±0)
Liberals 17.52% (-3.47%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Ecolo 11.50% (+3.32%) winning 3 seats (+1)
ProDG (German minority party) 17.49% (+5.8%) winning 4 seats (+1)
Vivant 7.16% (-0.18%) winning 2 seats
(±0)

The government of Belgium’s small German community has been formed. It is the same as before, a Socialist-Liberal-ProDG coalition led by Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Socialist).

Europeans

Dutch-Language Electoral College

Note that the Catholics and N-VA had an electoral cartel here, as did the Socialists and the Social Liberals (then called Spirit)

Catholics 23.26% (-4.89%) winning 3 seats (nc)
Liberals 20.56% (-1.35%) winning 3 seats (-4)
Vlaams Belang 15.88% (-7.28%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Socialists 13.23% (-4.60%) winning 2 seats (-1)
New Flemish Alliance 9.88% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)
Green 7.9% (-0.08%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Lijst Dedecker 7.28% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)

These results, compared to the Flemish regionals, tell the popularity of Guy Verhofstadt, the former Prime Minister of Belgium. Verhofstadt was the VLD’s top candidate and could become a major player in future European politics.

French-Language Electoral College

Liberals 26.05% (-1.53%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Socialist 29.1% (-6.99%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Ecolo 22.88% (+13.03%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Catholics 13.34% (-1.80%) winning 1 seat (nc)
FN 3.57% (-3.88%) winning 0 seats (nc)

There seems to be much more facility in voting for a Green at the Euro level than at the regional level. Maybe it’s because Brussels is included, but there remains a higher Green vote at the Euro level than at the regional level. Maybe it’s because voters know that voting Green at the Euro level has quasi-null impact on the European Parliament, while they’re more skeptical of placing Greenies in power at a level which directly concerns them.

German-Language Electoral College

Catholics 32.25% (-10.23%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Liberals 20.37% (-2.42%)
Ecolo 15.58% (+5.09%)
Socialists 14.63% (-0.31%)

The German seat should use STV.

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Posted on June 14, 2009, in Belgian German Community, Belgium, Brussels-Capital Region, EU Parliament, Flanders, Wallonia. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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