EU opinion & policy debates - across languages |

Belgium has the same range of political parties than elsewhere… but double!

Left: sp.a (14 seats) on Flemish side / PS (20 seats) on French side
Green: Groen! (4) /Ecolo (8)
Centre: CD&V (23), including Jean-Luc Dehaene, Yves Leterme (outgoing Prime Minister) and Hermann Van Rompuy (European President) / cdH (10)
Right: Open VLD (18) that left and let the government fall / MR (23), including Didier Reynders
Extreme Right: VB (16) and LD (5) / FN (1)

In addition, Belgium has pure linguistic parties that preach some sort of community independence: N-VA (8) on Flemish side / FDF (included in MR) on French side.

In the last few years, the CD&V and MR went away from the other moderates to form alliances with the linguistic parties (N-VA and FDF). The objective was to counter extreme right; the result was to reinforce community preferences.

What is BHV?
BHV is an electoral district which gathers Brussels and a portion of the Flemish area, of which towns of Hall and Vilvoorde. Because Brussels is bilingual, the lists of the entire district are bilingual.
  • Flemish does not accept that a French-speaking party could be elected and govern a city in the Flemish region. Therefore, they demand to divide the district in a bilingual part and a Flemish part.
  • French speakers are opposed to the split because French-speaking voters are established in this portion of the Flemish area. Therefore, they demand compensations such as moving Flemish cities to the Brussels area.

Last but not least
As the vote is obligatory in Belgium, populism often prevails on ideologism, which may gives the impression of a Comedia dell’ arte show. Election campaigns often reinforce extremism and governments take several weeks, if not months, to be formed.

From July 1st, Belgium will join Belgian Van Rompuy to preside Europe… Between a presidency phantom and a phantom of president, Europe will rely on an English countryside Baroness!

David Mekkaoui (29APR10)
Author :
EurActiv Network