Elections 2024: For Belgium's many new political parties, getting elected will be tough
Far-right politician and conspiracy theorist Thierry Baudet launched the Flemish branch of his political party Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy) on Saturday evening. Baudet wants to provide an alternative for the Flemish right-wing parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang.
It is the latest example of a growing trend in Belgium: the creation of new political parties to take advantage of declining support for traditional centrist parties. But because of the country's political system, established parties will prove hard to beat.
Forum voor Democratie, BoerBurgerBelangen, Voor U, Redelijk Rechts, Volt, ... These are just some of the many political parties that voters will be able to choose from in the elections on 9 June 2024. Some of them were founded by politicians who left their party because they were unhappy with the direction it was taking, while others are Flemish versions of parties that have been successful in the Netherlands.
What all these parties have in common is that it will not be easy for them to get elected. The strict electoral threshold of 5 per cent makes it very difficult for new parties to gain enough support to govern the country, as competition from established parties, which receive millions in state subsidies every year, is enormous.
Parties only receive state subsidies once they have an elected member in parliament. So new parties have to rely on private donations to fund their operations and election campaigns. This makes it difficult to compete with established parties, which had a net income of over €156 million in 2022 and spend millions on social media advertising every year.
To illustrate, in the Netherlands, where the threshold is just 0.6 per cent, four new parties won seats in the last two elections. In Belgium, meanwhile, the last new party to cross the threshold in its first election was the libertarian Lijst Dedecker (LDD) in 2007.
Dutch politician Thierry Baudet delivers a speech at a meeting to start the 'Forum Voor Democratie' Vlaanderen branch. © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK