Turning Red: Immigrants Tip the Balance in Belgian Local Elections
By Paul Belien
Created 2006-10-09 10:50
In last March’s local elections in the Netherlands the immigrant vote tipped the balance in favour of the Socialists. The same phenomenon marked yesterday’s local elections in Belgium’s major cities. In Antwerp the Socialists became the largest party. They jumped from 19.5% to 35.3% of the votes, winning 22 of the 55 seats in the municipal council – a gain of ten seats. Seven of the Socialist councillors, almost one third of the total, are Muslim immigrants: Fatma Akbas, Karim Bachar, Ouardia El Taghdouini, Youssef Slassi, Fauzaya Talhaoui, Güler Turan, and Sener Ugurlu. Six of the seven are new in politics.
The self-declared “islamophobic” and Flemish-secessionist Vlaams Belang [Flemish Interest], which until yesterday was Antwerp’s largest party, gained a few extra votes, winning 33.5% of the vote (33.0% last time). Its number of seats remains steady at 20. Antwerp politics is now defined by a polarization between Socialists and the VB. Apart from the VB all parties lost heavily to the Socialists (-7.3% for the Liberals and -6.4% for the Greens). The only party able to avoid being swallowed by the Socialists are the Christian-Democrats. They won 11.2% of the votes, adding an extra 0.1%, and kept their six seats. The Christian-Democrats, too, had put forward immigrant candidates. Two of their elected candidates, one third of the total, are Muslims: Nahima Lanjri and Ergün Top.
The VB also stagnated in other cities with large numbers of immigrants, such as Brussels, Ghent and Mechelen. After the 2000 local elections, in which the VB gained considerably, the Belgian regime extended the vote to immigrants for municipal elections and passed the so-called “Quick Citizenship Bill.” The latter grants hassle-free Belgian citizenship virtually upon demand to every individual who has lived in the country for three (in some cases only two) years, which enfranchises them in the general elections, too (voting is compulsory in Belgium). These measures were introduced with the specific intent of countering the VB.
As Leona Detiège, the then Socialist Antwerp mayor, told Knack Magazine on 13 September 2000: “The Vlaams Blok [as the Vlaams Belang was called at the time] is currently overrepresented because the immigrants are not allowed to vote.” And as Johan Leman, the then director of the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR), a government agency working for the Belgian Prime Minister, announced in the newspaper De Standaard on 15 January 2000: “What will ‘our own people’ still mean fifteen years from now? We will get so many new Belgians that this slogan becomes meaningless. The Vlaams Blok is a thing of the past.” Meanwhile six of Leman’s fifteen years have passed…
Ironically, as I pointed out earlier, in their efforts to counter the indigenous “racists” and “fascists” of the VB, the Socialists and Christian-Democrats do not hesitate to put far-right Muslim candidates on their electoral lists. Some of them, such a Murat Denizli, a member of the Turkish racist and fascist organization Grey Wolves which assassinates Socialist councilors at home, have now become Socialist councilors in Belgium (Mr Denizli was elected for the Parti Socialiste in the Brussels borough of Schaarbeek).
On 10 September I wrote that European politics will swing dramatically to the Left in the coming decades, owing to the growing influence of an immigrant vote eager to retain and expand the welfare benefits. Another trend, however, is also visible.
While yesterday’s elections saw the VB stagnate in the cities the party won massively in the smaller towns and villages. This is likely to continue. While Europe’s cities and major towns turn Muslim and red, the countryside will remain indigenous and will become ever more “islamophobic” and hostile to the cities. The indigenous Europeans – at least if they can afford it – are moving out of the cities (indeed, they are fleeing them). As Filip Dewinter, the VB leader in Antwerp, said in an interview last month: “I am a realist. The number of potential voters for our party is declining year by year [in Antwerp, which has 460,000 inhabitants]. Currently a quarter of the population are immigrants. These people do not vote for us. Every year 4,000 indigenous Antwerpians move out and 5,000 immigrants move in.”
The former city dwellers have moved to suburbia, where towns such as Schoten saw their percentage of VB voters rise yesterday from 24.5 to 34.7%, and to rural districts such as Mol, which saw the VB grow from 13.1 to 21.9%.