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Belgian election blog (updated)

by Elco B Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:43:14 AM EST

  Federal elections are held every four years in Belgium.

Today 7.7 million Belgians go to the polls to elect a new Federal Parliament. Voters will choose a new Chamber of Representatives (150 members) and 40 senators.

Belgium is one of the few democracies where voting is obligatory. Anyone not turning up to vote risks a fine.

And the Belgian elections too - afew

Updated here: final Belgium vote results


Polling stations close at 15 h and we expect first results at about 17h. But it can take a few hours to see the real tendencies.

For the moment it is impossible to predict what coalition will emerge, the latest polls suggest everything is possible.

While waiting for results, here some tidbits about the Belgian elections. I hope other Belgians will provide additional infro.


 

flandersnews.be - Last polling stations closed at 3pm

The polling stations remained open until 3pm for those voting by computer. The six out of ten Belgians voting with the traditional pencil and ballot paper had until 1pm to vote.

flandersnews.be - Expats start Belgian elections

On Friday Belgians outside the EU were able to vote.

Some 55,000 Belgians outside the EU registered to vote.

Most expat Belgians live in the US, Switzerland, Canada and Argentina.

Display:
Online sources for the results:

Flandersnews.be

.be Belgium Federal Portal

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:28:50 AM EST
So is the left winning or losing?
by pelcan on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:37:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ft/20070610/bs_ft/fto061020071317519535

It appears the Christian Dems are on there way to victory against the liberal and socialist party. It's wierd because the C Dems are center left, and the latter is center right (I would presume it to be the other way around). But like the Liberal Democrat party in Japan (it leans right), the names are often confusing. After the narrow loss of Bugaira's socialist and Sego and the PS' defeat, this is welcome news. Correct me if I'm wrong.

by pelcan on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the Christian Democrats are really center left, more like just center or center right. And the liberal democrats are center  left, at least on account of their social agenda. The socialists, though, are the main left party, and they suffered the biggest losses. So I think the left lost. The only upside for the left is that the greens won, albeit less than the socialist parties lost (+8 seats for the greens, -14 for the socialists).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 12:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my polling station, the local school, they couln't find the key's this morning. It took them almost an hour to have the station open and ready.
This was sowhat the worst incident in Belgium.
There were some problems with computers (40% of the votes is with computers) but everything could be solved very quickly.  

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:34:44 AM EST
Can you describe the computer systems? Do they allow an audit? Do they leave a paper trail?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:13:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not have personal experience with the system.
But, there is no paper trail and I think a real audit is impossible. This is not in accordance with EU prescriptions and is reason why a lot of international observers are here.
But so far nobody is complaining here in Belgium.

flandersnews.be - OSCE monitors Belgian poll

The OSCE, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has sent a team of monitors to observe Belgium's federal elections. The ten man delegation includes members from Albania, Kazakhstan, Italy and Spain.

Lubomir Kopaj told the VRT that the focus of attention would be on voting by computer.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First results for Flanders indicate gains for CD&V and greens, losses for SPa and VLD.
To early to see real tendencies.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:00:05 AM EST
P.S. I believe there is a way to set a diary to stay threaded chronologically. Do you remember how/can you do that?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:17:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you choose "hide" on option rate it will show without the effects on rating, ie chronologically. This of course only affects your own view of the thread.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 10:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
17 h now : about 20% of the count is completed.

In Flanders both coalition parties (liberals and socialist) lose more than expected.

Ultra-right-wing 'Vlaams belang' grows a bit.
Greens over treshold of 5% again.

Surprise event:  newcomer the 'lijst Dedecker' (a brake away from the liberals) over treshold so far.
 

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:22:25 AM EST
flandersnews.be - Heavy losses for Government parties
First results from Belgium's federal elections in Flanders show a resurgent Christian democracy with losses for the two government parties, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's Flemish liberals and and Mr Vande Lanotte's Flemish socialists. These are very partial results but the trend is clear.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:30:47 AM EST
In the French-speaking part of Belgium, tendencies are not realy clear yet.
Greens are growing almost erywhere but for the other parties it's not clear yet.
le fil info - Un article du Soir en ligne
Du côté francophone, les résultats sont très disparates


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:36:07 AM EST
French-speaking Belgium, Wallonia:

flandersnews.be - A neck-and-neck race

The socialists have long been all-powerful in Wallonia. However, recent scandals involving socialists in cities such as Charleroi and Namur have served to dent the party's showing in the polls.

Nevertheless, early indications show that the socialists are down just a couple of percent with the liberals up by a few percentage points on the last federal elections in 2003.

The Christian democrats appear to be doing less well than was predicted in recent opinion polls, but are up slightly on 2003. Meanwhile, the greens appear to be making up some of the ground lost at the last federal election.

The far-right Front National is just under the 5% threshold.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:55:01 AM EST
More than half of the votes now counted.

General conclusion :  Socialists are the big losers.
Centrum christian democrats are the big winners in Flanders, but their Walloon counterpart remains status-quo.

Greens win a bit, probably not enough to weigh on the government formation.

Sigh, we are going to have very long negotiations with the three big families, where local issues (especially federalisation) will dominate.
The European project ?    Huh ?

FLANDERS

           WALLONIA


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 01:35:58 PM EST
The constituencies counted are here.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 01:56:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At 66% of the Flemish bureaus counted, the results are...

  • higher for the Christian Dems than in the latest opinion polls (31.6% instead of 29.9%).
  • Open VLD loses less than predicted (at 18.4% instead of 17.7%).
  • The SP.a loses much more than predicted (at 16.3% instead of 19.4%)
  • Vlaams Belang gains less than predicted (at 18.9% instead of 21.4%
  • Groen! gains less than predicted (6.1% instead of 7.7%)
  • Surprisingly, the centre-right seperatist Lijst Dedecker seems to make the 5% threshold (at 6.4% instead of the prediced 3.8%).

Constituencies already counted or partially counted are mainly rural and small cities, big city results will probably skew the picture again.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 01:45:27 PM EST
Main city results at 20:19

(perc. of vote counted)

Antwerp: 0%
Gent: 22%
Brugge: 39%

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 02:22:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Results for Antwerp and Brugge in now (as soon as you write it...). Big loss for SP.a in Brugge, down 7.8 percentage points. Similar loss for Open VLD. In Antwerp, smaller loss for SP.a (1.3 percentage points, but also an average loss for Open VLD at 4.7 percentage points).

Vlaams Belang luckily down a bit in Antwerp, 28.4 percent from 30.4 percent in 2003, but still the largest party, 5 percentage points ahead of SP.a.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 02:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing so far not discussed yet, not even in the press  here is the impact of the results on the regional governments.

Yves Leterme, frontrunner of the CD&V and probably the next premier, is now minister-president of the Flemish government.

So, he can't be both.  Other regional ministers are important too in this federal elections and will make the move to the federal government.

So we will see not only negotiations between parties, but also inside the party's for all those functions.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 02:15:09 PM EST
If Yves is. MR is pretty strong now in Wallonia, above PS. They could also benefit from having more rest seats due to the FN (hopefully) not making the threshold. Flanders is more splintered. May be that MR becomes the largest party in parliament, or that MR/Open VLD combined are larger than CD&V/cdH. The MR leader IIRC already said that Verhofstadt could stay PM even if they are larger than Open VLD.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At 98% of the Antwerp region counted, the 24 seats go this way:

CD&V - N-VA     7
Vlaams Belang     6
Open VLD    4
SP.a - SPIRIT     4
Groen!       1
Lijst Dedecker     1

At 98% of Leuven counted, the 7 seats go this way:

CD&V - N-VA     2
Vlaams Belang     1
Open VLD    2
SP.a - SPIRIT     2
Groen!       0
Lijst Dedecker     0

By my rough guess a shift of the second seat from SP.a to CD&V is still possible on the remaining 2% of the vote (difference in terms of votes/seat in favour of SP.a now at 0.2 percentage points).

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:10:09 PM EST
Sorry, 8 seats to CD&V in Antwerp, not 7.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Leuven now certain as well.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:15:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I have to calculate that one together with B-H-V. Why do they have to make this stuff so complicated? :-)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 03:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Limburg's 12 seats, at 93.5%:

CD&V - N-VA 5
Vlaams Belang 2
Open VLD 2
SP.a - SPIRIT 3
Groen! 0
Lijst Dedecker 0

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 04:02:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wallonia results are now at 62% PS is getting an even bigger whopping (in some ways) than SP.a and Open VLD in Flanders. Down 7.3 percentage points at 28.9%. Biggest gainers are Ecolo and MR. FN (the neonazis) are luckily still a bit below 5%.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 04:11:10 PM EST
With votes now from 5592 bureaus counted of the 6153, the predicted divisions of the 150 seats :

Very different coalitions are possible to form a majority.

But the cartel partner of the winning CD&V, the NVA has very strong demands for more autonomy for the regions. But to pass legislation for this demands a 2/3 majority.

So we expect very long negotiations.....

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 05:19:36 PM EST
MR and Open VLD have 1 more seat together than CD&V - NVA/CDH though.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 05:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll have to wait to know that for sure till the last bureaus are counted: a shift of one, even 2 seats is still possible.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 06:01:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, especially in Wallonia. Flanders is pretty much entirely reported.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 06:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right now the only real uncertainty in terms of reported votes is in Hainaut (Henegouwen), which is at 70%. There, a seat might shift from the PS to the MR (MR right now at 22 seats and PS at 21). Other than that, everything seems fixed. So MR + Open VLD is the same size as CD&V plus CDH (right now both at 40), or one seat bigger...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:01:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This also means that either way the 'purple' coalition is stuck on 74 seats. So that can't be continued except with the greens.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:07:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, for the moment nothing is really decided.
It will take time for negotiations.
This comment is a pretty good summery:

flandersnews.be - Winners of CD&V face tough task

Most Francophone parties are hesitant to accept a state reform, which is exactly what the Flemish Christian democrats promised their voters.

So far, nobody has made any statements on possible coalitions. They all say they want some time to have a look at the exact results. State reform: yes, but how? In order to press ahead with a state reform, a majority of two thirds in the federal Chamber of Representatives is needed.

However, it won't even be easy for the Flemish Christian democrats to work out a 50% majority.

A right-wing government between Christian democrats and liberals seems to be the obvious solution, but will the liberals accept and can they agree on a programme?

Another possibility is a so-called "tripartite" with the three traditional political families: Christian democrats, socialists and liberals.

A coalition between Christian democrats and socialists would not have a majority nationwide, and neither would a coalition between socialists and liberals.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For negotiations, though, it will matter which 'family' of parties is the biggest. With Henegouwen now at 97%, it is pretty much certain that it will be Open VLD + MR by one seat at 41 seats. Don't think it's enough for Verhofstadt himself to stay on as PM, considering how big his own Open VLD lost. But they can probably claim a minister more in the cabinet if the Christian Democrats insist on the PM spot.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 12:38:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simply mindblowing but very similar to Indian parliaments (on regional level Indians also have many regional outfits not represented nationally).
by FarEasterner on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:57:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eelco, nanne, thanks a lot for this one - very infotaining diary. It's ideal to keep up with the developments in Europe.
by Nomad on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:33:06 AM EST
Elco - could you do an update that gives us the final vote results? Thanks!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 07:01:25 AM EST
I leave it for him to update the diary, but you can check out final results here (courtesy of nanne).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 07:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!

So...when does the national and Euro-wide SP start getting nervous? Do we see a trend away from the Socialist-Left, or what??? I am. Sure seems like there needs to be some re-thinking on the SP front....

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 07:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are different causes in the different countries, I think.

In The Netherlands, the loss of the PvdA was due to its leader being seen as indecisive on direction (the old flip-flop charge). This was a coordinated long-term negative campaign led by the right-liberal VVD party, conceived and directed by Mark Rutte. Fortunately the VVD itself did not profit from stealing negative campaigning frames from the repubs. But there was something to the charge. Bos did not have a good idea what he wanted, or at least could not get a clear message through.

Gerd Schröder's SPD party lost the elections (only just) because of his unpopular neoliberal-light-reforms that did not bring the expected economic dividend (in time).

The French PS lost the presidential elections due to infighting and a hostile media environment. And then somehow decided not to do anything about the parliamentary elections.

In Belgium, the Flemish SP.a lost its charismatic party leader Steve Stevaert due to health problems (ostensibly, he went to become governor of a small province, may have just been hiding from the wind?) and was tainted by association with the Walloon PS. The PS suffered from the most corruption and was blamed for the poor economic performance of Wallonia (which may be true or may be something more or less inevitable that the PS could only have managed a bit better).

In Austria, the SPÖ won the October 2006 elections.

In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party and its leader Persson were in charge for too long anyway. They could have survived, perhaps, had Persson made way for someone else.

Finland I don't know enough about.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In virtually all of these countries, too, the PES social-democratic parties are getting squeezed by rising competitors to their left: the Socialist Party in the Netherlands, the Left Party in Germany, the Greens in Belgium, Austria, and Sweden.  So a decline for them is not, in itself, a disaster for the left.  

France, on the other hand, seems a little more problematic ...

by Tsmoss (delta mike niner two two att bard period education) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:51:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All these countries except the UK (House of Commons elections). The first past the post system squeezes small parties. There have rarely been more than one or two MPs who could be said to be to the left of the Labour Party.

This state of affairs is an artifact of the electoral system, not a sign of how the UK votes under a fairer electoral system. In European elections (under Regional List proportional representation), the Green Party gets a few seats.

by Gary J on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 09:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This is the final result, all votes counted.

What happens next?

  • First what happend already this morning: - King accepts PM's resignation
    The Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal) this morning tendered his resignation to King Albert. The King has accepted the Prime Minister's resignation.

  • In the coming hours the Belgian monarch will be meeting a host of other top Belgian politicians.

  • The talks should lead to the appointment of an "informateur", a politician who can sound out the parties and suggest who is best placed to form Belgium's next coalition government.

  • The Flemish centrist alliance of Christian democrats and nationalists is now the largest political force in the country.

  • A Christian democrat/liberal coalition is now seen as the most likely outcome of coalition formation talks.

  • If Mr Leterme wants to press ahead with state reforms a government with a two-thirds majority is required. This could only be supplied by a Christian democrat/liberal/socialist coalition.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 07:36:47 AM EST
thank you...and great job on this!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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