Belgians vote in key election

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Belgians vote in key election

Belgians vote in key election
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Belgians are voting today in parliamentary elections that most predict could take the country significantly closer to splitting in two.

In a country with the third highest public debt in Europe, internal politics rather than the economy is dominating the vote.

Polls predict a man who has openly called for the gradual “evaporation” of Belgium will emerge with the greatest number of seats.

Bart de Wever’s New Flemish Alliance (NVA) is predicted to pick up 26 per cent of the vote.

But the electoral system in Belgium means he will need coalition partners, including from French speakers.

Many believe he will invite Elio de Rupo, leader of the Francophone Socialist Party to join him – and possibly offer him the role of Prime Minister in retrun for a deal on devolution.

De Rupo would be the first Francophone premier in 36 years.

The election follows the collapse of Yves Leterme’s five-party coalition in April. Leterme will stay on as caretaker prime minister until a new coalition is created.

But that would mark the end of his political career. Marianne Thyssen is now chairperson of his Flemish Christian Democrats party – and some tip her to become the first female premier of Belgium.

The arrival of former Belgian pm, the European Council President, Herman van Rompuy at the polling station is a reminder that in just two weeks Belgium takes over the rotating presidency of the EU.