Elections 2024: The remarkable comeback of Les Engagés

In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political figureheads are gearing up to compete for votes. Today we look at the French-speaking Les Engagés party and its leader, Maxime Prévot.

Les Engagés is a centrist French-speaking political party with its origins in Belgium's Christian pillar. It has since shaken off its religious imprint and made a remarkable comeback.

The party is led by 46-year-old Maxime Prévot, who is also mayor of the Walloon city of Namur. Under Prévot, the party has evolved into a broad centre-right, socially liberal "movement" with a new look and a new name.

Shedding the Christian stamp

After studying political science, Prévot was appointed political director of the party, then still called the Centre Démocrate Humaniste (CDH), when he was only 26. In 2019, he became party leader at a time when its fortunes were at their lowest.

Since then, the party has completely shed its Christian stamp and resolutely opted for the centre. According to Prévot, traditional parties can no longer provide answers to today's problems.

Prévot shies away from the limelight and is not one to make bold statements. He presents himself as someone who opposes the political trend towards polarisation and caricature. "Defending nuance has become an act of resistance," he told the daily La Dernière Heure in a recent interview.

After a period of renewal, the party has a new lease of life. While it won only five of the 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives in 2019, Les Engagés is projected to win 12 seats on 9 June.

Hit on by many, engaged to none

Although 12 seats do not yet make it one of the heavyweights, Les Engagés could play a key role in forming the next federal government. Given the rise of political extremes, the party could be a necessity in many conceivable government formations that seek to bring together more moderate forces.

Les Engagés could also prove crucial to the formation of a centre-right government, as advocated by current prime minister Alexander Decroo. The party has thus become a force to be reckoned with after five years on the opposition benches.

Apart from ruling out the extreme right and the extreme left, Prévot has not yet shown his cards as to who he would prefer to govern with. "Many may be hitting on me, but I'm not engaged to anyone," he told La Dernière Heure.



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