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Regional elections: MR triumphs in Brussels and Wallonia, narrow win for N-VA in Flanders

09:52 10/06/2024

Belgian centre-right party Mouvement Réformateur (MR) was the big winner in Brussels and Wallonia, while right-wing parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang came almost neck-and-neck to secure the most votes in Flanders in yesterday's regional elections.

In Brussels, MR came top in the regional poll with 26% of the vote, gaining seven extra seats to have 20 elected MPs in the region's parliament.

"The voters have given us a fairly strong mandate. It's not a small victory, but a real victory," said MR's leader in Brussels, David Leisterh, who is likely to become the region's next minister-president, succeeding Rudi Vervoort.

Leisterh added: "We are not returning to a government to do the same thing as before."

Complicated negotiations will now begin to form a coalition that will make up Brussels' new government, with MR's likely partners on the Francophone side expected to include the PS and Les Engagés parties, which scored 22% and 10.7% respectively (16 and eight seats). On the Dutch-speaking side, Groen was the top-ranked party, keeping its four seats in the region's parliament.

Far-left PTB/PVDA also made gains in the Brussels region elections, picking up five extra seats from French-speaking voters to bring its total in the Brussels parliament to 16 (15 for the French-speaking PTB for one for its Flemish equivalent, PVDA)

Meanwhile, Francophone green party Ecolo suffered the biggest defeat in Brussels, losing more than half of its seats in parliament, from 15 to seven.

One big surprise in Brussels came from a new, small party - Team Fouad Ahidar, which won three seats in the region's parliament, catapulting it to become the second biggest party on the Dutch-speaking side after Groen.

Ahidar, a former sp.a/Vooruit MP, created his own left-leaning party for these elections and, as well as celebrating a win in Brussels, the party will also have one elected MP in the Flemish parliament.

"I don't know what to feel," M'Hamed Kasmi, party leader for the Flemish parliament told Bruzz. "I'm over the moon, I'm dreaming."

"We are ready to govern. Fouad has been in the Brussels parliament for 20 years. He is a fantastic candidate and has more than enough experience for it."

Bruzz described Ahidar's achievement as "unprecedented", adding: "He started from scratch four or five months ago and managed to put together a party that immediately became the second largest party on the Flemish side in Brussels."

MR's dominant position in Brussels was mirrored in Wallonia, where the centre-right party came top, scoring 29.6% in the regional vote, a gain of six seats in parliament to achieve a total of 26.

Socialist party PS came second, losing four seats, with Les Engagés making the biggest gain to come third and win an extra seven seats in Wallonia. A centre-right coalition between MR and Les Engagés would appear the most likely, to achieve a comfortable majority of 45 seats out of 75.

Les Engagés president Maxime Prévot said: "The voters are sending an extremely clear signal that they want the centrists to once again become a force of action in governments."

In Flanders, nationalist party N-VA and the far-right Vlaams Belang came close, scoring 23.9% and 22.7% respectively, which translates into 31 seats for each party, a gain of eight seats for Vlaams Belang. Their seats combined, 62, would be one seat short of being able to achieve a majority in parliament.

Vooruit emerged as the third biggest party in Flanders, winning an extra six seats to bring its total to 18. A coalition between N-VA, Vooruit and fourth-placed CD&V would achieve a narrow majority of 65 seats.

N-VA chairman Bart de Wever said Flanders had "more than ever" chosen "more autonomy".

"Bart, don’t let this historic opportunity go to waste,” Vlaams Belang chair Tom Van Grieken urged his fellow nationalist politician during his own victory speech.

Photo: Benoit Doppagne/Belga

Written by The Bulletin