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Never mind the ballots: Some unusual facts about Belgium's local elections
Voters in Belgium head to the polls on Sunday (14 October) to elect their local councillors - a warm-up for the regional, federal and European elections next year.
Instead, we bring you the stranger side of the local elections. Here are some of the more unusual stories that have caught our eye during the campaign.
In Molenbeek, you can vote for a man who has died
Christian Boone, 87, was the oldest candidate in the Brussels region. A Christian-Democrat activist since 1952, he was a mentor for the younger candidates on the CDH-CD&V list in Molenbeek, where he was standing for a third time. Because he died after the electoral lists were finalised, Boone will appear on Sunday's ballot paper. Votes for him will be transferred to the next candidate on the list.
Voters in Ghent are spoilt for choice. Alongside the usual political parties, you'll find a Pokemon list. "We have absolutely no policies or political ambition," says list leader Martijn Alf. Then there's Piss-Off, a feminist movement campaigning for better women's toilets at the Gent Festivities. Elsewhere, Tienen (Flemish Brabant) has a list called Young and Sexy. And in Wavre, the Wachou party (pictured above) have policies include erecting a large pyramid, creating a nudist park instead of Walibi, and wearing flip-flops to weddings.
What's in a name?
In Bossu (Hainaut province) there is no Pokemon party, but there is a candidate called Barbi (no E). She has long blond hair and drives a bright pink Merc. Nicknames are allowed by law, as long as the candidate can provide a notarised declaration signed by two witnesses who confirm that the candidate is known by their nickname. One candidate who is using his real name is Luc Anus. You'll see the 26-year-old's face on campaign posters around Lobbes (Hainaut province) accompanied by "Anus" in big letters. He uses a pseudonym on Facebook because the social network doesn't allow his real name.
Young and old
Estelle Maton turns 18 on Saturday - and hopes to be elected a local councillor the day after. The youngest candidate in Belgium just meets the age criteria and is 17th on the MR list in Huy (Liège province). The oldest electoral candiate we've found is 94-year-old Emile Hansart, Ecolo candidate in Frasnes-les-Anvaing (Hainaut province). He is standing for election for a seventh time.
With 88 inhabitants (72 of voting age), Herstappe in Limburg province (pictured) is Belgium's smallest commune. So small, in fact, that the local elections were cancelled six years ago because there were seven candidates for seven positions on the local council. This time, it's different. Four candidates have formed a rival list to challenge mayor Claudy Prosmans. After 12 years without elections, which way will the people of Herstappe vote? The tension is unbearable.
Show me the money
If election fever in Belgium has inspired you to become a candidate in 2024, you might like to know how well the job is paid. Mayors in the municipalities of Brussels earn between €6,659 and €11,450 gross per month depending on their commune's size. Local councillors' pay is also based on municipality size. In the Brussels region it ranges between €3,996 and €8,587 gross per month.
Herstappe photo: Eric Lalmand/Belga