Belgian elections: advantage the left, the right and the Greens

The center-right coalition government suffered reverses even as the left-wing Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Flemish-nationalist right-wing party, Vlaams Belang, made significant gains

May 29, 2019 by Muhammed Shabeer
No party has got a majority on its own in the parliament. Photo: Politico

Federal elections in Belgium on May 26 resulted in a political upset in the country, with parties in the ruling coalition suffering a huge setback. The results were announced on May 27. The right-wing Flemish nationalist party, Vlaams Belang (VB), made huge gains in the Dutch-speaking northern region. The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) made big gains in the elections and the green party, Ecolo, also made significant gains in the French-speaking southern Belgium. Despite loss of seats and votes, the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) remained the largest party in the country. Meanwhile, the liberal-French Reformist Movement (MR) party, Flemish Christian-democrat CD&V party and Flemish-liberal Open VLD party lost a significant number of seats.

The center-right ruling coalition, consisting of N-VA, CD&V, Open Vld and MR, led by prime minister Charles Michel (MR), lost almost 22 seats and got only 63, which is 13 seats short of the 76-seat mark needed for a majority in the 150-seat parliament. The Christian-Democrat CDH party got five seats and the social-liberal DEFI got 2 seats.

The major opposition, Socialist Party (PS), also lost three seats and won only 20 seats in the new assembly. The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB) made huge gains from just 2 to 12 seats and increased their vote share by 8.62%. Ecolo’s seats increased from 6 to 13, gaining 6.14% votes. Another green party, Groen, won 8 seats with 6.10% votes. The socialist sp.a got 9 seats in the new house.

In effect, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Flanders voted for the right-wing and the French-speaking Wallonia gave leftist parties a clear win. The electoral outcome shows a clear division between the two major linguistic communities in the country, which makes it very difficult for parties to form the government.

PTB president Peter Mertens said the results were a shock for the traditional parties. He said the people have expressed a vote of anger across the country because of the real social problems caused by austerity policies.

Politico reported that Belgium’s King Philippe is expected to first mandate someone to hold exploratory talks, as he did after the last elections. This is due to the fact that no party has a clear majority.

Of the 21 seats in the European Parliament from Belgium, N-VA got four seats, Open Vld, PS and MR got three seats each, CD&V got 2 seats, and Ecolo, Groen, sp.a and VB got one seat each. Marc Botenga became the first elected member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA).

On May 26, elections to the regional parliaments in the country were also held along with the elections to the federal parliament and the European Parliament.