Political Parties


Political Parties
   During the 1990s the Liberals (Parti Réformateur Libéral) entered the ruling coalition in the Brussels regional government despite being in opposition in the other regional legislatures and at the federal level. It has garnered about 34 percent of the vote and constitutes an indispensable player in regional coalition building. Either alone or as part of a group, it is the main electoral force in Ixelles, Etterbeek, Koekelberg, Uccle, Forest, and the two Woluwes.
   The Socialists (Parti Socialiste), the strongest force in the late 1980s and early 1990s, now holds second place at both regional and municipal levels. Several communes have long been traditional "red" strongholds —Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles, Evere, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.
   The Front démocratique des Francophones remains the third largest party, with strength in Auderghem, Watermael-Boitsfort, and Woluwe Saint-Lambert. The moderate Christian Democrats (Parti Social Chrétien) are traditionally strong in the city of Brussels, Ganshoren, Jette, and Berchem-Sainte-Agathe. The radical right made inroads during the 1990s with the Front National winning six seats on the Brussels Regional Council in 1995. Radical Francophone parties do best in the southern and southeastern communes, where Dutch-language representation is virtually nonexistent.
   During the 1990s, the number of Dutch-speaking elected officials hovered around 11 percent for communal elections and 14 percent for regional contests. They secure seats either as members of the regional divisions of a Flemish party, as members of Flemish cross-party lists, or as members of bilingual lists of one political party. Local contests hinge on local issues and personalities rather than the language question. At the regional level electoral lists must be unilingual. Voters are free to vote any list. The Dutch-language lists do best in western and northwestern suburbs.
   The position of the parties on the status of Brussels mirrors the linguistic division. Moderate Dutch-language parties (Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten, Christelijke Volkspartij, Socialistische Partij) call for a guaranteed bilingual status for the Brussels Capital Region (BCR) to ensure unfettered participation by their linguistic compatriots, encourage Dutch-language learning, and support bicommunity initiatives that do not promote further Francophone inroads. The right-wing Vlaams Bloc seeks an eventual independent state of Flanders with Brussels as capital. The party affirms that the French presence in Brussels is of relatively recent origin and can be reversed over time. Francophones in Brussels will support the party when they realize it is in their economic interest to do so, Vlaams Bloc adherents maintain.
   French-language parties (Parti Réformateur Libéral, Parti Social Chrétien) uphold current regional arrangements while stressing cultural and economic ties that link the BCR with Wallonia. Close association is essential to thwart any possible moves by Flanders to change the language border into a political border. The Parti Socialiste supports enlargement of the region to include neighboring areas, including the communes à facilités. The Front démocratique des Francophones calls for a strengthening of French language and culture in the BCR and close ties with Wallonia.
   See also National Politics.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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