Zakia Khattabi failed in Friday to be voted into a place as a judge on the country’s Constitutional Court, by failing to achieve the votes required from members of the Senate.
Khattabi was co-president of French-speaking green party Ecolo until September last year, having filled the post since March 2015.
Her failure to obtain the 40 positive votes necessary from the 60 senators was to be expected: her candidacy had been opposed by N-VA and Vlaams Belang (VB) from the beginning. She was described as an “open borders activist” who had no judicial background. VB accused her falsely of having physically resisted a police effort to deport a refused asylum seeker in 2013 – a claim disproved by police reports.
And she was expected to miss the votes of MR until the last minute, when they announced they would support her after all. In the end she took 37 votes from the 59 senators present. The two parties opposing her account for 16 votes, but it was the number of abstentions that secured the defeat.
The position as the latest French-speaking judge on the Court remains open. Ecolo has said it will present her again for election.
“We’re going to review the situation in detail, but she remains the person we propose to fill this function,” said Hélène Ryckmans, head of Ecolo’s parliamentary group. “Zakia Khattabi continues to show all of the qualities required to exercise this role. She has shown her attachment to the values of democracy.” And she described the candidate as someone who “is representative of the diversity of Belgian society.”
Zakia Khattabi was born in Saint-Josse in Brussels in January 1976 to a Belgian-Moroccan family, and graduated in social work from the Free University ULB. She was first elected to the Brussels parliament in 2009. She was designated to the Senate by her party in that same year. She joined the federal parliament in 2014, and became co-president of her party the following year. She is credited with helping engineer the successful campaign for the Ecolo-Groen coalition in the communal and federal elections.