A guide to the elections: Elections to the Flemish Parliament

On 9 June, people in Belgium will go to the polls to vote in federal, regional and European elections. Even for seasoned residents, the process is often confusing. In this article, we take a look at the voting process at the regional Flemish level.

The Flemish Parliament constitutes the legislative power in Flanders for matters falling under the competence of Flanders, both as a geographical region and as the cultural community of Belgium (this is in contrast to the French Community and Wallonia, each of which has separate legislative powers).

Its duties consist of approving decrees applicable to all persons in the Flemish region and to Flemish institutions in Brussels, appointing and supervising the Flemish Government and approving the Flemish budget. 

Candidates and seat allocation

The Flemish Parliament consists of 124 MPs elected for a five-year term, with the last elections having taken place on 26 May 2019. A total of 118 candidates are directly elected by residents of the five Flemish provinces - Antwerp, Limburg, Flemish Brabant, East Flanders and West Flanders - and six by voters in the Brussels Capital Region. 

The composition of the Parliament, which cannot be dissolved early and therefore always remains for the full legislature, is then determined according to the system of proportional representation. To get an elected representative in one of the constituencies, an electoral list has to get at least 5 per cent of the votes there. This is known as the electoral threshold. 

The seats of that constituency are then distributed by first aggregating all votes per list and then dividing them based on the D'Hondt method. This calculation ensures that the proportion of votes is reflected in the proportion of seats: the more votes, the more seats. After the distribution of seats among the electoral lists, mandates are finally awarded to candidates, largely on the basis of their preference votes obtained. 

Who can vote?

As in most democratic countries, all Belgian citizens over the age of 18 can vote during the elections of the Flemish Parliament, as long as they are registered in a municipality of the Flemish Region or the Brussels Capital Region on the day the electoral rolls are closed. Belgians living abroad cannot participate, but Belgians on holiday can do so by nominating a proxy in Belgium to vote on their behalf. 

Important note: voting in Belgium is compulsory and secret, so everyone who is eligible must participate in the elections. Anyone who fails to do so can be fined and even lose their citizenship if repeated. In practice, however, these rules are almost never enforced.


#FlandersNewsService | A plenary session of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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