Elections 2024: Strict rules on campaign spending take effect this Friday
From this Friday, 9 February, strict rules will apply to campaign spending by Belgian political parties. On Sunday 9 June, Belgians will go to the polls to vote for the House of Representatives (federal parliament) and the Flemish, Brussels and European parliaments. Belgian law requires a four-month 'blackout period' for election campaigning.
The blackout period - "sperperiode" in Dutch or "période de prudence" in French - is the reference period during which parties are legally allowed to spend a maximum of 1 million euros for all elections held on 9 June. In addition, gadgets and oversized election posters are out of the question.
There are also spening limits for candidates, depending on their position on the list. The head of the list and one additional candidate are subject to an increased limit, a lump sum plus a variable amount depending on the number of voters in the candidate's constituency. Other candidates on the list are subject to a lower amount.
In addition, certain forms of campaigning are prohibited during the four months ahead of the elections. For example, no gadgets may be sold and no gadgets or gifts may be distributed. Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, the country's biggest spender on campaigning via social media, already announced last week that the party's online shop would therefore be closed from Friday 9 February until 10 June - the day after the elections.
In addition, during the blackout period, parties and candidates cannot use commercial billboards or posters, non-commercial billboards or posters larger than 4 square metres, conduct commercial telephone campaigns or distribute commercial spots on radio, television and in cinemas.
Social media ads
The audit committee on election expenditure in the House of Representatives pointed out at the end of December 2023 that a ban on sponsored content on the internet has been lifted by the law of 6 January 2014. This means that political advertising on social media is still allowed despite the blackout period.
A giant election poster of N-VA chairman Bart De Wever made headlines ahead of the October 2012 elections © BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM