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Only 3.6% city councillors in Brussels are non-Belgians

16:58 06/11/2018

Out of 695 city council seats in the Brussels-Capital Region that were decided in last month’s local elections, only 25 went to expats. A total 304 foreigners, however, were on the ballots, according to figures published by Le Soir.

That means that, while nearly 17% of registered voters are foreign-born, only 3.6% of the elected officials are. Some three-quarters of the 25 are women, while half of them are French.

Thomas Huddleston of VoteBrussels, which worked to get out the expat vote, said that those with the right to vote should be automatically registered, which would get more foreigners to the polls. But VUB political scientist Dave Sinardet told Bruzz that the gap in the number of expat voters and expat seats is not that alarming.

“We should remember that neither the foreign voters nor the foreign candidates are a homogenous group,” he said. “We shouldn’t assume that someone from Poland would rather vote for someone from France simply because it’s another foreigner. The same is true for people of the same nationality. We have no idea who voted for who.”

Ixelles has the greatest number of expat councillors with five, followed by Etterbeek, Saint-Gilles and Uccle, each with four. “Those are richer municipalities,” said Sinardet. “But it’s also because of the parties that did well in those municipalities. A party like Ecolo workers harder to get other nationalities on its list.”

Photo: Hatim Kaghat/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw