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Vlaams Belang makes biggest gain in Belgian federal elections

20:44 26/05/2019

Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang made the biggest gains in Belgium's federal elections on Sunday, winning 18 seats to become the third biggest party in parliament.

Vlaams Belang polled three times better than in 2014, with 12% of the vote. Outgoing prime minister Charles Michel - whose MR party lost six seats in the federal parliament - said on Sunday that the far-right's growth "shows that Belgium is not spared the rise of extreme populists, as is the case in other European countries".

Vlaams Belang also performed well in the European elections, with three of the 21 seats - the same number as the N-VA.

There were also big gains in the federal elections for the left-wing PTB/PVDA - which went from nothing to win 12 seats - and the green parties Ecolo and Groen, which between them have 21 seats - a gain of nine on the last elections.

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA remains the biggest in the federal parliament with 25 of the 150 seats - a loss of eight seats compared with 2014. The French-speaking Socialist party PS came second, with 20 seats.

The results leave Belgium's parliament more fragmented than before. Parties will need to work together to form a coalition with at least 75 seats in order to command a majority and form a government.

King Philippe will meet each of the party leaders over the next three days. N-VA leader Bart de Wever has reportedly ruled out working with PS.

Vlaams Belang chairman Tom Van Grieken is keen to speak to the N-VA. Since 1991, a "cordon sanitaire" applies in Belgian politics - an agreement by the rest of the country’s political parties to exclude the Vlaams Belang from all coalitions and councils.

Belgium's federal parliament in numbers

N-VA: 25 seats (-8)
PS: 20 seats (-3)
Vlaams Belang: 18 seats (+15)
MR: 14 seats (-6)
Ecolo: 13 seats (+7)
PTB/PVDA: 12 seats (+12)
CD&V: 12 seats (-6)
Open VLD: 12 seats (-2)
sp.a: 9 seats (-4)
Groen: 8 seats (+2)
CDH: 5 seats (-4)
DéFI: 2 seats (no change)

Photo: Jonas Roosens/Belga

Written by The Bulletin