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Local elections: The green wave spreads across the south of Belgium

10:39 15/10/2018

Reflecting a similar trend to Brussels and Flanders, the Ecolo party made significant gains in Wallonia. The other victor in Sunday’s municipal and provincial elections was workers’ party PTB, although socialist PS maintained its habitual dominant position in the region’s major cities.

The slight shift away from the traditional political camps of PS, MR and cdH is likely to be the subject of scrutiny ahead of next year’s regional and European elections.

Now the challenge for Ecolo and PTB lies in the forming of new coalitions, forging practical alliances to start governing from January 2019.

In addition to a clear message from voters that climate change is a challenge to be taken seriously, liberal MR appeared punished for its participation in the federal government, as does the PS for the Publifin corruption scandal that rocked the region in 2017.

Here’s a look at results across the region:

In the province of Brabant Walloon, MR remained in the lead with 38.3% of the vote and 16 seats, three short of a majority. It’s likely to form a coalition with the greens, other victors in the province. In the capital Wavre, the mayor’s list topped the table with around 41%, a significant drop compared to 2012 when Charles Michel occupied the seat. Françoise Pigeolot replaces the Belgian prime minister as mayor.

The former industrial heartland of Hainaut saw little change to its socialist domination of the province and major cities, although almost 7% was shaved off its provincial majority compared to 2012. MR remained in second place and will form a majority with PS. Ecolo replaced cdH in third place. In the region’s largest city Charleroi, left-wing PTB reported a record 15.7% score. Socialist Paul Magnette will remain mayor with 22,475 votes, the highest score by any mayor in Wallonia. In Mons, the PS was equally a clear victor, although former prime minister Elio di Rupo was ousted in favour of Nicolas Martin. In second position in the city, Georges-Louis Bouchez’s Mons en Mieux took second place with 21% of the votes.

The results from Liège trickled in on Sunday night, with some only confirmed on Monday morning. Home to the Publifin scandal, the province was under particular scrutiny, so it was no surprise to see the PS lose 8.5% of the vote, with rises reported by PTB and Ecolo. In the provincial government, PS retained 21 seats, MR 17. Meanwhile, in the communal elections, the PS-cdH majority lost its lead, with MR for Liège, PTB and Green Ardent now filling second, third and fourth slot, ahead of cdH.

In Namur there was little change with cdH claiming victory in the regional capital. Incumbent mayor Maxime Prévot retained his place, although his centrist party suffered some losses. PS took second place, ahead of Ecolo and MR. In the province, the previous MR-cdH coalition no longer holds, previously counting 21 out of 37 seats. Ecolo doubled its score with eight seats, so MR will be looking to form a new and possibly three-party coalition.

It was touted as the battle of Bastogne in Luxembourg province as cdH president Benoît Lutgen went head to head with his brother Jean-Pierre Lutgen, CEO of Ice Watch, for the mayorship of the Ardenne town. So it was probably with a sigh of relief that Benoît Lutgen reinforced his majority with 63% of the vote. His brother announced his intention to quit politics. Although the cdH-MR coalition suffered a slight loss, cdH retained 14 seats in the provincial government and MR gained two, giving it 12. Ecolo doubled its score, now holding four seats.

Photo: The cdH party celebrates its victory in Namur ©Maxime Asselberghs/Belga

Written by Sarah Crew