Elections 2024: Fouad Ahidar, the biggest surprise of the Brussels elections

Team Fouad Ahidar is the big surprise of the 2024 elections in Brussels. The former socialist's party, which Ahidar founded this year, became the second largest Dutch-speaking party in the capital with more than 16 per cent of the vote.

The Brussels elections revealed some unexpected results. MR overtook PS as the largest French-speaking party in the capital, while Groen exceeded expectations on the Dutch-speaking side, winning more than 22 per cent of the vote. But the biggest surprise came from Ahidar, whose party won three seats in its first electoral cycle.

Ahidar, 50, became a full-time politician in 2001, joining the liberal party spirit before switching to the socialist sp.a - now known as Vooruit - in 2008. He has been a permanent member of the Brussels parliament since 2004 and was the sp.a's parliamentary group leader in Brussels for several years.

Intra-party conflicts

But in 2022, he was expelled from the party office by former Vooruit leader Conner Rousseau. Ahidar, a Muslim with Moroccan roots, voted against a ban on slaughter without stunning in Brussels, going against the party line. "I can't believe that God makes animals suffer. I say this clearly as a practising Muslim," Ahidar said at the time.

He clashed with the party leadership a second time in November 2023, when he said the 7 October Hamas terrorist attack in Israel was "a small reaction by a part of Hamas". A month later, he left the party after racist remarks by Rousseau came to light, leading to his resignation as leader.

Ahidar was quick to announce that he would contest the elections with his own party. In February he launched Team Fouad Ahidar and by March, he had drawn up a list of candidates and collected the necessary signatures to take part in the elections.

Muslim voters

Team Fouad Ahidar is now the second largest Dutch-speaking party in Brussels, after Groen. Notably, Ahidar outperformed Vooruit by more than 6 percent. His departure cost the socialists dearly, losing over 5 percentage points compared to 2019.

Ahidar ran successfully on subjects such as ritual slaughter, government employees being allowed to wear a veil and the conflict in Gaza, targeting Brussels' large Muslim community. In addition to Ahidar, Najima El Arbaoui and Ilyas El Omari won seats in the Brussels parliament on Sunday.

Whether the party will be part of the next Brussels government remains to be seen. First, the Dutch and French language groups will each seek a majority, after which they will begin negotiations on a Brussels coalition agreement.



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