Elections 2024: What’s at stake for the Belgian people?

This year, Belgian citizens will replace all of their political leaders. On Sunday, they vote for the members of the European, national and regional parliaments, followed by local politicians in October, in separate elections. Belga English explains what to look out for once the people have cast their vote.

During this election campaign, the media paid most attention to the federal level. Nevertheless, the regional level has several important competencies, and the EU is where the big decisions are made.

European Parliament

Europe is going through several rapid changes and facing major challenges: the war in Ukraine and the threat posed by Russia, migration, climate change, economic competition with China and the US and the associated protectionism.

The various Belgian parties all have their view on what the EU’s response to these challenges should be. The extreme right points to reducing migration. Left-wing parties prioritise climate and the European social model. Right-wing parties want to strengthen European companies against global competition.

As elsewhere in Europe, voters – and the media – may be aware of the importance of the EU, but they don’t pay much attention to it. Choosing the occupants of the 22 Belgian seats in the next European Parliament matters, however, because they will help to determine where the EU’s priorities lie.

Federal parliament

At the national level, Belgium has three major problems: a broken tax system, an outdated socio-economic system and poor public finances. While the issues aren’t new, as there is no easy solution, most politicians prefer to stay quiet about them. This is no longer possible. First, because the problems can’t be hidden anymore. Second, the EU will restart its control of national economies and budgets, and Belgium will be one of its main targets.

These financial-economic problems are closely linked to Belgium’s institutional system. For example, the federal level bears the brunt of the sovereign debt, but the regions have the largest incomes. ​ Following several state reforms, competencies have been dispersed over several political levels, where different coalitions form the main governments. ​

Six state reforms have transformed Belgium into an inefficient country, where it’s difficult to take decisions that have a real impact; a seventh reform is necessary to solve this but could just as well make things worse.

Regional parliaments

Belgium consists of three regions and three communities, resulting in sixregional parliaments. Citizens have many concerns that need to be addressed at the regional level: schools, childcare, care for the elderly and people with disabilities, mobility, and the balance between agriculture, economy and environment.

The six state reforms mentioned above have given important competencies to the regions and communities: these include education, economy, agriculture, well-being, transport and the environment. The logic was that by decentralising those competencies, the results of the different policies would be better. For various reasons, the Flemish, Brussels, Walloon and francophone governments of the last five years are generally perceived as weak and ineffective.

By the end of Sunday, we should know in what direction Belgians want the next federal and regional governments to look for solutions to these issues, and ​ how they see the future of Europe.



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