Flemish political parties see rapid decline in membership

According to a new study by political scientists at UGent, all Flemish non-radical parties are experiencing a sharp drop in membership. The growth of the radical right and left does not compensate for the overall sharp decline, De Morgen reports on Thursday.

The centrist parties N-VA, CD&V, Open VLD, Vooruit and Groen will have a total of 145,947 members in 2023, Nina Dufourmont and Bram Wauters of UGent calculated. In 1987, Christian democrats CD&V, then known as the CVP, alone had around 139,000 members.

Although the decline has been going on for some time, it has accelerated in recent years. The parties' membership base has shrunk by 50,000 compared to 2017, a drop of almost a quarter in six years.

Extreme parties see growth

The two extreme parties, the far-right Vlaams Belang and the far-left PVDA, have increased their membership. But this growth does not compensate for the losses of the other parties. Vlaams Belang and PVDA remain relatively small parties in terms of total membership.

Age is an important factor, the study shows. "Party members are literally dying out," says Wauters. "Young people are not less involved, but they are involved differently. They support a petition, demonstrate for the climate or block a motorway with their tractor. It is all more impulsive and short-lived."

The decline in membership does not pose a practical problem for the parties' operations. The researchers point out, however, that it may be more difficult to recruit new political staff.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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