Belgium goes to the polls in European, Federal and Regional elections
Belgian voters will be voting in a general (federal) election, regional elections as well as the European Parliament election today.
In the federal election they will be voting for the 150 members of the Chamber of Representatives. In the 2010 election the centre-right and Flemish nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) led by Bart de Wever emerged as the largest party with 27 seats. The centre-left Francophone Socialist Party (PS) led by Elio Di Rupo came second with 26 seats. After the election on 13th June and 541 days of bickering, Elio Di Rupo managed to form a government on 6th December 2011.
We have to hope that something similar doesn’t happen after this election, although that looks more likely with the N-VA being more prepared to compromise (apparently) than in 2010. Di Rupo eventually put together a six party coalition which has, somehow, managed to work. If the N-VA, expected to be the largest party again, does not compromise, then it could find itself out of government again.
Opinion polls give the N-VA around 20.6% of the vote this time, compared with 17.4% in 2010. The Socialists are on 10.2%, down on their 13.7% in 2010 and the only other party in double digits, the centre-right Flemish party, the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) is on 10.7% about the same as in 2010 when they won 17 seats (they are also the largest party in the Flemish Parliament).
In the regional elections, voters will choose representatives for the Flemish Parliament (124 seats), Walloon Parliament (75 seats), Brussels Parliament (89 seats) and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community (25 seats).
Belgian elections are as complex as the country itself, with parties that stand only for their own narrow interests in the regional parliaments.
In the Flemish Parliament the CD&V is expected to lose its top spot to the N-VA. Opinion polls suggest the CD&V are down 2.9% on the last elections when they won 22.9% of the vote whilst the N-VA is on 31.8% up from 13.1% in the 2009 election.
In the Walloon Parliament the Socialist Party (PS) has a 6.9% lead over the centre-right Reformist Movement (MR) according to the latest opinion polls. The Socialist Party is on 28.7% (down from 32.8% in 2009) whilst the Reformist Movement is on 21.8% down from 23.4% in 2009.
There are 8,069,468 eligible voters for the European and Federal polls and a lesser number for each of the regional parliaments. Belgium has compulsory voting. The roughly 17,000 polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time.