Article15 October 2018Reading time 3 minutes

Belgium and Luxembourg: some thoughts after an election day…

Last Sunday, local elections in Belgium and general elections in Luxembourg were held. What are the main points to keep in mind?

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Compared to other Eurozone countries where elections resulted in significant surprises or risks of seeing the traditional parties being sidelined in favour of new or populist parties, the results of these elections in Belgium and Luxembourg appear rather serene. But that does not mean that there is nothing to retain.

Belgium: regional discrepancies…

Local elections are mainly driven by local problems. In many municipalities, traditional political parties are replaced by open lists of candidates, joining different parties or political candidates and citizens. Voters are also focused on the challenges facing their municipality more than regional or national issues.

This being said, there are some important lessons from this election:

(1) Greens are making strong progress across the country. They enter more majorities, strengthen their position or even obtain the position of Mayor. This is mainly at the expense of other traditional parties, which for the most part are losing ground. That being said, one can certainly not say that the parties in the federal majority have been disavowed, even if they are losing ground.

(2) As everywhere in Europe, there is a rise of populist or extremist parties. But compared to what we have seen elsewhere in Europe, the movement is weaker.

(3) It is interesting to note that in Flanders, the vote moves slightly more to the right, whereas in Wallonia and Brussels, it moves rather to the left, especially if one only looks at the extremist parties. Therefore, and this is the main lesson, if these results were to be confirmed in regional and federal elections next year, the formation of a federal government would be made more difficult. Indeed, at the regional level, it is not certain either that the current majorities can be renewed, certainly in Wallonia and Brussels, where the push of the Greens and the extreme left opens the political game.

Luxembourg: renewal of the majority?

The general elections in Luxembourg have also not shown a major reversal of political forces. The Christian Democrats, who are the first political force in the country but are in the opposition, have 21 seats out of 60. However, they are likely to remain in the opposition, as the three parties forming the previous coalition, namely the Liberals (12 seats), Socialists (10 seats) and Greens (9 seats) will be able to renew their majority with Xavier Bettel (Liberal) as Prime Minister. But it is still too early to say, as the Head of State has barely begun his political consultations. It should be noted, however, that the Greens are also recording the best progression, which, in the case of a renewal of the past majority, would probably give them more weight.