Elections 2024: The key players in Groen

In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political figureheads are gearing up to fight for votes. Today we take a look at Groen and its key players, Petra De Sutter and Tinne Van der Straeten.

Groen is one of Belgium's leading progressive parties, with a focus on environmental policy. Since its transformation from Agalev to Groen in 2003, the party has spent most of its time in opposition. Groen has only been part of one federal government, the current De Croo government.

Nadia Naji and Jeremie Vaneeckhout are the party leaders, but they are not well known to the general public. Tinne van Der Straeten and Petra De Sutter are expected to do best in the elections, thanks to their positions as federal ministers.

Petra De Sutter

According to a recent poll by De Standaard and VRT, Petra De Sutter is the seventh most popular politician in Belgium. She is currently federal minister for Public Administration, Public Enterprises, Telecommunications and Post.

De Sutter entered politics in 2014. As a transgender woman, she has championed LGBTQI+ and female reproductive rights, earning her widespread recognition. She was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, and was sworn in as a minister a year later. She is Europe's first transgender minister.

De Sutter also has an impressive CV to back up her popularity. After obtaining a doctorate in biomedicine, she worked as a gynaecologist. In 2000, she became a professor at UGent and worked her way up to head the department of reproductive medicine at UZ Gent.

Tinne Van der Straeten

Tinne Van der Straeten started her political career in 2007 as an elected member of the federal parliament. After not being re-elected in 2010, she became a lawyer in the energy sector. Van der Straeten knows the sector inside out, and as minister, she helped Belgium become a European forerunner in wind energy.

According to experts and her colleagues, Van der Straeten has done a good job during her mandate. But she does not enjoy the same popularity as De Sutter. Groen's U-turn from shutting down nuclear reactors to extending their lifespan has damaged her reputation, even if it was unavoidable because of the war in Ukraine.

Heavy competition

The popularity of its politicians may not matter much to the party's core supporters. Research shows that Groen voters tend to care more about the party's platform than the popularity of its politicians.

Widespread appeal, however, does not seem to be on the cards for Groen. Climate change and environmental protection, the party's biggest talking points, do not seem to be a major talking point in this election cycle.

In addition, the socialist party Vooruit and the communist party PVDA are both rising in the polls, taking potential left-wing votes away from Groen. If they maintain their popularity during the elections, it will be difficult for Groen to play a meaningful role in the government formation process.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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