Elections 2024: The key players in PVDA

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 the PVDA and its key players, Raoul Hedebouw and Jos D'Haese.

The PVDA (Partij Van De Arbeid or the Workers' Party of Belgium) is a far-left political party with Marxist roots. It is the fastest growing party in Belgium and, unlike other political parties, it operates as a single party throughout the country: in the French-speaking part of Belgium it is known as PTB (Parti du Travail de Belgique).

Bilingual speeches

Its leader, Raoul Hedebouw, is the embodiment of his party. He was born in the French-speaking city of Liège to a Dutch-speaking Flemish family and is perfectly bilingual: during speeches in the Chamber of Representatives, he often alternates between French and Dutch.

Hedebouw campaigns on a platform of workers' rights, fighting big business and taxing millionaires. But as the leader of a party at the extreme end of the political spectrum, he has often been accused of being a populist. He was heavily criticised this year when he falsely claimed that the Colruyt supermarket chain only paid 0.27 per cent tax on its profits in 2022.

Still, his party is gaining popularity, shooting up the polls since Hedebouw took over the leadership in 2021. According to the latest VRT poll, it is the fifth most popular party in Flanders, with 10.7 per cent of the vote. This is more than the government parties Open VLD and Groen, and almost double the 5.3 per cent it won in the 2019 elections.

Social media

The Marxist party is also very popular among Flemish youth. Like the far-right Vlaams Belang, the PVDA is adept at using social media to persuade younger voters. "We talk to young people and we listen very well. The messages I get from you I take to parliament to make your voices heard," explained PVDA member Jos D'Haese in an interview with Gazet Van Antwerpen.

According to the VRT poll, the 31-year-old is one of the top 20 most popular politicians in Flanders. This is not least thanks to his activity on social media, where he has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and 175,000 followers on TikTok. As D'Haese put it in the interview, the PVDA needs to "conquer the rest of the population through the youth".

But government participation will remain difficult for the PVDA, as D'Haese has said the party does not intend to abandon its Marxist ideology, which most politicians consider too extreme.


#FlandersNewsService | Jos D'Haese (left) and Raoul Hedebouw (second from right) © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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