Elections 2024: Who do I vote for if I want a smaller budget deficit?

In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political parties are staking out their positions on key issues. Today we take a look at Belgium's growing budget deficit - and how parties want to handle it. With more than 27 billion euros in budget deficit, a big cost-cutting exercise awaits the country.

To calculate how much the different parties will spend and how much they will cut, the Federal Planning Bureau calculated the costs and revenues for a selection of their proposed measures.

How do they affect purchasing power? Do they reduce or increase the ​ deficit? Here is a brief overview of the results that indicate how the parties want to spend and save money if they are elected. 

Top of the class

Of all the Flemish parties, N-VA saves the most money with its measures. By selling government stakes (including in Proximus, bpost, Belfius and more) and cutting in healthcare and unemployment benefits, the Flemish nationalist party hopes to sharply reduce the budget deficit to 3.6 per cent. Spending, in turn, will mostly go towards defence, energy transition and digitalisation. 

Far-left PVDA and greens Groen are not doing badly budget-wise either. They would mainly aim for a wealth tax to bring in money, while spending would go towards boosting wages and benefits above the poverty line (Groen) and lowering the retirement age and food prices (PVDA). Socialist party Vooruit also wants more taxes on wealth and aims to use these revenues to have less tax on labour. 

Liberals Open VLD want to make work pay more and would also do so by reducing taxes on labour. The billions to pay for that cut would mostly come from healthcare and by limiting unemployment over time.

The losers

Trailing behind with the poorest budget proposals, according to the Planning Bureau, are Vlaams Belang and CD&V. At the very bottom of the list is Vlaams Belang. Like N-VA, the far-right party looks at government stakes to find money (as well as a limitation of unemployment over time and a reduction of the number of asylum seekers), but it wants to invest heavily in reducing the income tax and will therefore continue to derail the budget. 

The Christian democrats of CD&V follow at a slight distance, with the budget deficit similarly increasing dramatically. The party is promising a tax cut but does not seem to be able to compensate that sufficiently with revenues. 

An important note

The watchdog's work is not a complete vetting of election programmes. Because the bureau has limited power, each party was able to present a maximum of 30 measures. Furthermore, there are some flaws in the study. For instance, the Planning Bureau only looks five years ahead (tax and pension reforms often only pay off in the longer term) and some payback effects are harder to quantify in detail, such as the impact of extra childcare on productivity.

This summary does say something about party priorities, though, as they themselves could choose which 30 measures they wanted to have vetted and thus where they wanted to put the spotlight.



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Elections 2024: Who should I vote for if I want to see a stronger EU?
In the run-up to the June elections, Belgium's political parties are staking out their positions on key issues. Today we look at where they stand...

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