Flemish nationalists set to retain lead in Belgian parliament

By Thomson Reuters Jun 9, 2024 | 12:58 PM

By Philip Blenkinsop and Charlotte Van Campenhout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Flemish nationalist party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) was on course to remain the largest party in Belgium’s parliament as the liberals of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo slumped, setting the country on course for months of challenging coalition talks.

N-VA appeared to have held off a rise of Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), a far-right party that wants to split Belgium and that opinion polls before the election had forecast would be the victor in the Dutch-speaking north of the country.

With 61% of the vote counted, N-VA had a clear lead over Vlaams Belang, with De Croo’s party back in sixth place in Flanders, partial results published on the interior ministry website showed.

Neither N-VA nor Vlaams Belang is part of the current seven-party governing coalition.

In the French-speaking south of Belgium, the outcome was less clear, with fewer votes counted. The liberals and the socialists were vying for top spot.

Over the coming months, talks will seek to forge a governing coalition between the largely right-of-centre parties of the Dutch-speaking north, and the more left-leaning parties of the French-speaking south.

Indeed, Belgium holds the world record for longest government formation, taking 541 days in 2010-2011.

“Government formations in Belgium always take a long time and that is the expectation again now”, said Carl Devos, a politics professor at Ghent University.

De Croo’s government will stay on in a caretaker capacity.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by David Holmes)