On 25 May 2014 Belgian voters faced the complex task of voting for their federal, regional and European representatives. The result did not surprise, with the NV-A (Flemish nationalist party) the first force in Flanders, getting near 30% of the vote in some districts.
It appears that their win was mainly down to the NV-A being able to draw votes from the Vlaams Belang (far right party), which has now been wiped out. Other Flemish parties retained their seats, with CD&V (conservatives) and greens improving their 2010 results. The sp. A (socialists) meanwhile lost a share of the vote, but managed to hold on to their 13 seats.
On the French side, the PS (socialist) remains the largest party, despite losing some votes to the far left. The Ecolo party (greens) appears to be in free fall, while other centrist (CdH) and liberal (MR) parties keep their representatives.
The election confirmed just how fractured the political landscape is, with a clear national divide between north and south, and rising concerns on how to reconcile these opposing forces in a new government. Bart De Wever, leader of the NV-A, leads the way and was named by the King on Monday 26 May as “informateur”, which means he is now tasked with forming a coalition.
Looking at the results, analysts agree that the NV-A changed tactics in the campaign by putting a dampener on the separatist message and its fight for institutional reforms. Despite this new positioning, and focusing on socio-economic issues, there are concerns over the NV-A’s ability to form a government.
At this point, anything is possible at both regional and federal level, to the extent that even if the N-VA is politically indispensable, they are not indispensable in numerical terms. The game of alliances and negotiations is now open. The pace of meetings and discussions accelerates while the suspense remains.
Will the Flemish nationalist party succeed in what it failed to do in 2010, or must Belgium prepare to see another 541 days of political uncertainty?