Author: William Fraeys
On june 13th, the Belgian voters had to choose their representatives in four assemblies: the European Parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, the Senate, and the Regional Council of either the Flemish, the Walloon or the Brussels Capital regions accordingly.
Thus these elections made it possible to measure possible differences in the results a same list obtained in the different polls. These differences could be observed for some lists, but not for all and were essentially due to the personality of certain candidates rather than to a political will to differentiate, with the exception perhaps of the Ecologists, who traditionally perform better in European elections.
These elections also saw an increased use of computer based voting: some 44 % of the registered voters had to express their choice via a computer screen. As a consequence one observed a sensitive drop in "blank and spoilt" ballots.
The elections have been characterized by several phenomena. First, there was a marked decline, amounting to some 10 % of the votes, in the support for the parties of the outgoing majority: christian democrats and socialists. In losing each somewhat less than 5 %, they have both hit their historical low and together no langer hold a simpte majority in Parliament.
The liberal family bas become the largest in Belgium, which had never accured since the introduction of the single vote system (1919). This first position was conquered more through the decline in the results of the socialists and the christian democrats than via a true advance of the liberals. Though the Flemish component of the liberals progressed by 1.14 %, the French-speaking wing receded by 0.13 %.
The overall winners of the elections are the ecologists who on the whole climb from 8. 44 % to 14.36 %. This progression is ho wever proportionately much more marked for the French-speaking component (Ecolo) than for the Flemish part (Agalev). Ecolo bas become the thirdmost important party of Wallonia and the second one in Brussels, whereas Agalev remains the fifth party in Flanders.
The extremist parties have had diverging results. The extreme left remains altogether very marginal in Belgium (about 1 %) , whereas the extreme right appears to be a typically Flemish phenomenon. Indeed, the Vlaams Blok increases its share of votes by 3 .12 % and with 15.31 % has become the third party in Flanders and thereby even surpasses somewhat the result obtained by the VN.V in 1939.
The French-speaking extreme right suffered a decline due among others to internal divisions and only stands for 4.09 % in Wallonia and 4 % in Brussels. As a consequence of these results the composition of the assemblies has changed drastically. To constitute a government holding a simpte majority in the Chamber of Representatives, one needs at least three political families (i.e. 6 parties) or two families and the support of another party (5 parties). In the Flemish parliament, one needs either a three party coalition, but necessarily comprising the CVP, or a four party coalition to obtain a majority. In the Walloon parliament, a two party coalition is only possible if the PS participates.
In Brussels, the Vlaams Blok, although passing from 2 to 4 seats, bas not succeeded in paralysing the functioning of the institutions as this party didn't obtain the majority in the Flemish group.
Opinion polls held before the elections had forecast the direction in which votes would shift, but not the extent. The dioxine crisis bas reinforced this shift and has undoubtedly accentuated the progression of the ecologist lists.
How to Cite: Fraeys, W. (1999) “Les élections législatives et européennes du 13 juin 1999 : Analyse des résultats”, Res Publica. 41(2-3). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/rp.v41i2-3.18543