Today the country goes to the polls to vote in municipal elections. And while arguments have raged over local (and sometimes national) issues, some details may have been missed. Here are just a few: • Based on figures from the last municipal elections in 2012, around 20% of registered voters will not turn up, or will turn in a blank or spoiled ballot. Registered voters are required by law to vote;
• That number includes 8,111,288 Belgians who have received the summons to turn out, together with 130,649 non-Belgians registered to vote in municipal elections;
• In Brussels, 635,328 people have been summoned to vote, including 57,885, or 9.1%, who will be doing do for the first time;
• Taking place at the same time are provincial elections in Flanders and Wallonia (Brussels is not attached to a province) in which non-Belgians are not eligible to vote;
• How much does it cost to get your vote? According to newspaper Het Belang van Limburg, each vote costs €4.13, with parties spending a total of €1.65 million on campaigning;
• Don’t even think about taking a selfie inside the voting booth, which is illegal and can lead to a fine. This is considered a form of electoral publicity – especially if shared on social media – and all forms of campaigning are illegal on the day of the election itself;
• Although opening time for polling stations in Brussels was 08.00, at that hour 47 were still closed because of technical difficulties. Two hours later, 30 remained closed. The polls in Brussels close at 16.00;
• Delegations from five countries will be in Belgium to observe the vote by electronic means, which is used in all Brussels communes and all of Flanders, but not in Wallonia. The international observers come from Estonia, Ukraine, Tunisia, South Korea and Canada.