Belgium: Far left breakthrough in poll

Before May 25, there were no elected representatives of what is called the “radical” left in Belgium, unlike in other countries in Europe. This anomaly has now been corrected.

The Belgian Workers’ Party-Left Opening! (PTB-GO!) lists are sending two members to the Belgian federal Chamber of Deputies, two to the Walloon parliament and four to the parliament of the Brussels-Capital region.

Apart from Vincent Decroly and Bernard Wesphael, who were elected for the Ecolo (Greens) party but who later resigned, there had been no member of parliament to the left of the Socialist Party (PS) and the Greens since the early 1980s.

The PTB-GO! lists won about 133,000 votes for the federal Chamber ― 118,000 for the Walloon parliament (5.76%) and 15,800 for the Brussels parliament (3.86%).

The progress of the PTB-GO! lists, compared to the PTB Plus lists (featuring the PTB and individuals, but not other groups) in the 2010 elections, is clear.

In the 2010 federal elections, the PTB Plus won 39,000 votes in the Walloon constituencies and 9000 votes in Brussels. Overall, the gains are greater than 270%.

This leap was the result of several factors. The most important was the dissatisfaction provoked by austerity policies imposed by the Socialist Party (PS) government of Elio Di Rupo. During the campaign, activists could see that part of the traditional PS social base wanted to punish it and to express a desire for an alternative.

The second factor was the general tone of the PTB-GO! campaign, particularly the way it was expressed in the media by spokesperson, Raoul Hedebouw.

The discourse, arguments, demands and style of speaking to the mass of the people were all well adapted to the present level of radicalisation.

The third factor was the image created by bringing together Left Opening (involving the Revolutionary Communist League, the Communist Party of Wallonia-Brussels and various left individuals).

Thanks to Left Opening, voters felt the old quarrels on the left were being overcome. Voters were able to simply support the key slogans of the whole left, such as social justice, tax justice and solidarity.

[Abridged from International Viewpoint.]

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