Cwi election campaigns 2004:
Belgium: 20,000 votes for socialism
Linkse Socialistiche Partij(LSP)/Mouvement pour une Alternative
Socialiste(MAS), the Belgian affiliate of the CWI, for the first time ever
stood nationally in elections and won at least 19,841 votes. On Sunday,
Belgium voted for both the European elections and the regional parliaments
in Flanders, French speaking Walloon, and Brussels areas. We ran a Dutch
speaking LSP list and a French speaking MAS list for the European parliament
and a list standing for the Flemish regional parliament in the East Flanders
constituency. In our campaign we made a difference with the traditional
parties by having a political campaign instead of a campaign based on
popular faces saying nothing.
The election results (the French speaking results are not complete yet) show
that there have been important changes in Belgium, although both areas of
the country have a very different result.
In the Dutch speaking area the Christian democratic opposition gained a
little going up to 28.12% (+ 2.77%), the Greens doubled their terrible vote
of in last year's national elections getting 7.99% (+4,.4%) and the Vlaams
Blok made a new breakthrough going over 20%, getting 23.17% (+4.96% since
May 2003). All government parties lost: the right wing Liberal VLD lost
4.06% and has 21.9%, the Social Democrats even lost 7.02% compared to last
year and now have 17.85%.
This makes it impossible to have a coalition government of just two parties,
opening a possibility of a new Green participation in the regional
government, even though taking part in the national government led to their
terrible result in 2003 when they were voted out of the national parliament.
The Greens had a campaign based on the need to keep a 'progressive' voice in
parliament, and many who voted Social Democrat last year now turned out to
vote Green. Even some of our voters decided to have a 'tactical' vote in the
regional election to ensure that the Greens remained in the parliament,
while voting for us in the Euro election.
The main lesson of the result is the enormous volatility of the electoral
results. The parties in government are voted away time and time again. In
1999 the Christian Democrats suffered a defeat and had to leave the
government, in 2003 the Greens were swept away. Now the Social Democrats and
the Liberals lost a lot. In the meantime the Vlaams Blok continues to grow,
now at 23%! In Antwerp the Vlaams Blok got 34%. It is clear that as long as
they are seen as an opposition party, there is potential for further growth.
This will only be stopped if through resistance against the anti-working
class policies of the government, a new political force can grow. Political
representation for the worker class is needed more than ever; the election
result now shows the huge potential for this. While the Vlaams Blok is now
the second biggest party in Flanders, they are hardly able to mobilise and
take more and more openly neo-liberal positions.
The LSP achieved important progress in the election. In last year's national
elections we got 8,300 votes standing in the whole Dutch-speaking area for
the first time. We have now increased this vote to 14,166. This represents
0.35%, still not that much but a significant step forward. We increased our
membership and active support in the campaign. This can be seen in the
electoral result. In Antwerp we got over a 1,000 votes, up from 450 last
year. These results follow a successful campaign to demonstrate against the
Vlaams Blok earlier this year when 800 anti-fascists took to the streets. In
the campaign for the elections we recruited 10 new party members in Antwerp.
In Limburg we started to build a basis for our party. Our result there now
went up from 0.14% to 0.34%. Similar results were noted in Western Flanders
and Vlaams Brabant. In East Flanders the Greens were, this time, an
important competition for us, leading to a more limited advance.
French speaking area
In the French speaking area there was a completely different result. The
Social Democracy (Parti Socialiste) won the elections and got 35.86%. The
Liberals lost 5%, getting 27.5%. The Christian Democrats won a little, but
are still only at 15.10%. The Greens got 10% (up 2%), the neo-fascist FN got
7.30% (up 1.30%) and their split off, the FNB, got 1%. In the French
speaking area the Parti Socialiste presented itself as the 'lesser evil'
which made a certain impact.
The different results will make it difficult for the regional parliaments.
Normally the regional governments are composed of the same coalition in all
areas, but this now becomes extremely difficult. This could lead to a crisis
of the national government, as Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt actively
participated in the European elections getting a terrible result.
In the French speaking area MAS stood for the first time. Not all results
are in yet, but we get 0.28%, at least 5,675 votes, which is not bad for a
party standing for the first time ever. It was only in 1995 that we started
to build our French speaking organisation. Today we have French speaking
branches in Brussels, Liège, Mons, Verviers, Tubize and possibilities to
build elsewhere (for example Charleroi).
LSP/MAS: important step forward
This election campaign was an important step forward for our party, starting
to build a force which isn't yet seen as a group with wide sympathetic
support and active in all sort of campaigns, but as a political force that
can put ideas on the agenda. Our result might be modest, but 20,000 votes
for a growing socialist force shows the potential for our organisation to
build a party which will be decisive to finish with the neo-liberal anti
working-class policies and the capitalist system defended by all traditional
Geert Cool, Antwerp
For the results of the German cdes election battles
For the Irish Socialist Party results