The Belgian Socialists look as though they are heading for defeat in the second city Antwerp for the first time in 90 years, and that nationalist Bart De Wever will take power.
With about a fifth of the votes counted De Wever’s N-VA party has just over 38% of the vote to the Socialists’ 29%, and will be in a dominant position when it comes to coalition-forming.
These local elections may represent a turning point in Belgium’s history, as De Wever’s N-VA wants to split Flanders from French-speaking Wallonia and go their own way. Controlling Antwerp, Europe’s second-biggest port, would be a considerable boost for the party ahead of the 2014 general election.
Exit polls also suggest that the N-VA is picking up between 20 and 30% support throughout Flanders, indicating it has succeeded in putting down local roots, confirming its status as the region’s biggest party.