Political party Blanco aims for parliament seats, only to leave them empty

New political party Blanco is aiming to win seats in parliament, but if successful, it plans to leave those seats empty. Blanco, founded by Laurent Ryckaert, aims to give a voice, or lack thereof, to voters who are unhappy with the options on the ballot.

In 2019, more than one million Belgians refused to cast a vote in elections, either by not showing up or leaving their ballot blank. When that happens, those votes are not represented in parliament. Blanco considers that to be undemocratic and wants to change how protest votes are handled.

The only item on the party's agenda is to reform electoral law by giving voters an extra choice on ballots, namely, a blank one. "We will be present in the Chamber and abstain from every vote that is cast there," says Ryckaert. "We will not participate in committees and only vote for our own bills."

'Alternative to extremes'

He and his political partner, Raf Lens, have addressed their general disappointment in voting for various parties in the past and think Blanco will be a wake-up call for politicians. "That will hold up an incredibly beautiful mirror to the members of parliament: look, these are all the people you don't reach," Ryckaert says.

After observing voters casting protest ballots in the way of voting for Vlaams Belang or PTB/PVDA, Ryckaert wanted to find a method to funnel those votes into something more meaningful, saying, "Our programme is an alternative to extremes."

While politicians typically run on platforms that state their positions in a bid to entice voters, Ryckaert and Lens's only concern is solidarity for the cause. "Everyone is welcome as long as they agree with our one programme point," says Lens. "These could be people who are frustrated about nitrogen, about parliamentary pensions, the judiciary, Covid or childcare. We don't even ask that question, because it's irrelevant to us."

Ryckaert still faces logistical challenges. "We are not yet an official party, but that is our goal. I really believe we will get more than 100 candidates," he says. "We need 77 candidates for this: seven for each of the 11 electoral districts. The only problem is the requirement for a man and a woman to be in the party, so I hope more women will contact us."




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