The left surges in Brussels in latest polls

The left surges in Brussels in latest polls
PVDA-PTB flags pictured during an action 'Tax the rich!' of left-wing party PVDA - PTB in Brussels, on the first of May, Labour Day, the International Workers' Day, Monday 01 May 2023. Credit: Belga / Hatim Kaghat

A new poll has shown the Workers Party (PTB-PDVA) is the most popular party in Brussels, closely followed by the Belgian Greens who have frog-leapt the French-speaking liberals Mouvement Reformateur (MR).

On 9 June 2024, Belgium will hold national elections on the same day as the European elections. According to the latest polls by Knack, Le Vif and other partners, once again, the regional differences in the country remain stark – a left-wing Brussels and Wallonia, and a right-wing Flanders.

As things stand, Brussels is set to have the Belgian Worker’s Party (PTB-PVDA) as its biggest party in the regional parliament. In second place, the Belgian Greens (Ecolo/Groen) polled 20% in the Belgian capital, despite losing ground from 2019 (-2%).

Is Brussels becoming the new Belgian left-wing stronghold to rival Wallonia? It could be, as Brussels voters have increasingly been turning their back on George Louis Bouchez's MR in Brussels, slipping from first in 2023 to third in 2024 – a possible indictment on MR leader Bouchez’s divisive style of leadership.

In a battle for the left's biggest party, the more radical PTB has also appeared to have taken a chunk out of the Socialist Party (PS) vote in Brussels, who have lost considerable ground in the capital too (-5%).

At the national level, the seat project, however, remains largely unchanged from predictions from October 2023.

Despite still being the biggest party, the PS would lose 4 seats under the poll’s current seat project, down to 29 seats. Far-right nationalists Vlaams Belang, still surging in Flanders, continue to top the poll, making them the second biggest party in the country with 25 seats – all in Flanders.

Following closely, the Belgian Workers Party (The Left in the EP) and the liberal family of MR and Open VLD (Renew Europe) would both get 21 seats. The liberals are the only major political ‘family’ not to have presented a unified list, demonstrating a chasm between the two parties.

Bart De Wever’s N-VA (ECR) would get 19 – down from 25 in 2019. The Belgian Greens would have 17 seats, compared to 21 in the previous legislature. The conservative political family CD&V and Les Engagés (EPP) would also have 17 seats.

Flanders and Wallonia

In Wallonia, the main players, Paul Magnette’s PS and Bouchez’s MR have both lost ground, having gone down by 3 and 1 percentage points, respectively. PS is still the biggest party there (24%), MR second with (20%) and PTB in third (18%).

The biggest gains in the Walloon poll have been the French-speaking Greens (Ecolo) and the EPP-affiliated Les Engagés (both +2%).

PS leader Paul Magnette delivers a speech making the case for a 32-hour week, which Flanders calls "unaffordable". Credit: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

In Flanders, Vlaams Belang continues to dominate the polls, clearing Bart De Wever’s N-VA, who has been tipped by some Flemish pollsters as a possible next Prime Minister.

Building on their success in the polls, these two Flemish nationalist parties (which diverge as far-right and neo-conservative respectively) could end up with a majority in the Flemish Parliament for the first time – although fell slightly short in this poll, according to ULB political scientist Pascal Delwit.

De Wever has previously said he would not work with the far-right, yet discussions around maintaining a cordon sanitaire on the far-right in Flanders have become very sensitive at best, or greatly weakened at worst.

For N-VA to achieve its policy of confederalism through a reform of the constitution, they would need to have the support of all political parties – which is unlikely.

Overall, Flanders is seeing the opposite effect to Brussels, with only Flemish nationalist parties gaining ground as well as PVDA up by one, but still in 5th place behind Vooruit (15%) and CD&V (11%).

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