Search form

menu menu

Federal elections: Belgium shifts to the right, prime minister set to resign

10:11 10/06/2024

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo announced his resignation on Sunday evening following his liberal party Open VLD‘s battering in Sunday’s national elections.

While the country shifted to the right there was no landslide from the far-right as polls had predicted.

Nationalist party N-VA now has the largest majority with 16.7% (a 0.7 percentage point rise), which means its leader Bart De Wever (pictured) is set to become Belgium’s next prime minister.

Separatist Vlaams Belang was in second place with a record 13.8%, up 1.8 percentage points from 2019. But there was clear disappointment in the party’s camp as expected victory speeches were cancelled. Despite success in the polls, it is likely to remain excluded from power.

In contrast, Open VLD recorded 5.4% of the Flemish vote, representing a 3.1% drop. An emotional De Croo told party supporters: “For us, it's a particularly difficult evening, we lost. As of tomorrow, I will resign from my post as prime minister. But the liberals are strong, we'll be back."

While “recognising the voter’s message”, he said: “I am convinced that we need a new government quickly, with full powers.” The collapse of Open VLD’s support was seen as a personal failure for De Croo, who had been leading the campaigning for his party.

In third place in the federal elections were Francophone liberals Mouvement Réformateur (MR) who took 10.3% of the vote, an increase of 2.7%. There were marginal rises for far-left PTB-PVDA and Flemish socialists Vooruit, but Francophone socialists slumped to 8%, a 1.4% loss compared to 2019.

It was also a disappointing result for greens everywhere, with Groen recording 4.6% (a drop of 1.5 percentage points) and Ecolo 2.9% (down 3.2 points).

Tradition dictates that the prime minister submits his resignation to the King following national elections, although De Croo will stay on as caretaker prime minister until a new government is formed.

With the collapse of the outgoing Vivaldi coalition, N-VA leader De Wever is on track to become Belgium’s next prime minister. “Our obituaries were written, but we won these elections,” he told his party triumphantly on Sunday evening.

Record number of abstainers

More than 1,050,000 voters – 12.5% of the electorate – failed to turn up to vote on Sunday. This was 100,000 more than in 2019, reports RTBF.

Abstainers therefore represent virtually the second party in the country, not that far behind the N-VA and its 1.165 million voters.

Although voting is compulsory in Belgium and abstainers theoretically risk fines, prosecutions are extremely rare.

But there were fewer blank votes recorded compared to five years ago: 415,912, compared to 438,098 in 2019.

This decrease is linked to the success of the Blanco party, which attracted some 75,000 votes across the country.

Belgium's MEPs

In the European Parliament elections, which also took place on Sunday, Flemish right-wing parties Vlaams Belang and N-VA each held on to their three seats in parliament.

Centre-right MR also has three seats, a gain of one, while far-left PTB/PVDA and Flemish Socialist party Vooruit both doubled their presence in the European parliament from one seat each to two.

CD&V, Socialist party PS and Flemish green party Groen held on to their seats, while Open VLD and Ecolo each lost a seat.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Written by The Bulletin