In just under a month, on 14 October, the country will go to the polls to elect their local authority representatives – with one exception. In the village of Zuienkerke in West Flanders, population 2,776, there will be no election for the local communal council, because the mayor and local councillors are standing unelected. There are 11 seats on the council, and 11 candidates. Democracy at its simplest.
Alain De Vlieghe has been mayor since 2010, and now leads the “Mayor’s List” consisting of himself and 10 supporters, each of whom has been assured of their place in the council which takes office on 15 October. The deadline for the deposition of opposition lists expired on Saturday, leaving De Vlieghe with precisely zero opponents.
The election is an improvement for the Mayor’s List; at the last election in 2012, there was a one-man list standing against the cartel. He failed to be elected, and De Vlieghe’s list took 89% of the vote.
De Vlieghe considers it a “pleasure” to serve as mayor of the town, which he describes as a model of law and order in an interview with he VRT. “Sometimes young people break something, a but of vandalism but nothing serious.” following incidents some years ago, the people of the town set up a neighbourhood watch scheme.
“It worked well, perhaps even two well,” he explained. “There was once an emergency doctor driving around to find an address, and before he could find the house, he had already been reported to the police. They were sitting waiting for him. At least he could laugh about it.”
One piece of less good news for the people of Zuienkerke hoping for a long lie on 14 October: they still have to vote in the elections, taking place on the same day, for members of the provincial council.