The gap between politicians and voters and more hot potatoes

The VRT and De Standaard have launched their "Vote Match" (stemtest) application for the Flemish and Brussels elections. The online test gives you 35 questions about political choices that have to be made in various areas (yes/no/no opinion). Before the test was launched online, 1,000 people were asked to participate. These were considered as being representative for the whole Flemish population. One of the interesting conclusions can be that some ideas that turn out to enjoy a broad public support, are hardly popular among the political parties.

Following are some examples of proposals that have wide public support, but that are only put forward by one of the 6 leading Flemish parties (see below).

"Secondary schools should no longer organise expensive school trips". Almost 63 percent of the respondents give this idea thumbs up, but it only has the support of the socialists of SP.A.

Where social housing is concerned, 2 in 3 Flemings (67 percent) think that those that rent such a house should give up it up once they earn a better salary, although it only has the support of the Flemish nationalists of N-VA.

Should Burgomasters be elected directly by the people, instead of being appointed by the coalition parties (often opting for a compromise choice)? 76 percent of the people agree, while only the liberals of Open VLD are in favour.

More subsidies for cultural projects aimed at the public at large, is a proposal only suggested by far-right Vlaams Belang. However, a majority of the Flemings gives it thumbs up (51.5 percent).

Higher fiscal benefits for those renovating a house instead of building a new house. This has the support of no fewer than 83 percent, but only the Christian democrats of CD&V and Vlaams Belang included it in their manifesto. This so-called "woonbonus" issue (tax benefits in return for investing in a place of your own) will become a regional power after the elections.

Another example: almost 56 percent of the 1,000 respondents want to have restrictions imposed on the use of cars in the case of smog, while only the green party Groen and the socialists of SP.A are giving this idea thumbs up.

Click here for the Voting Match application for the Flemish elections. The different political views include those of the Flemish nationalists (N-VA), Christian democrats (CD&V), liberals (Open VLD), socialists (SP.A), far-right Vlaams Belang and the green party Groen.

Some hot issues

On other issues, opinions are more diverse, both where the electorate and the parties are concerned.

  • Everyone has to pay a general health care contribution each year to keep the health care system sustainable. Everyone now pays 25 euros, but it is feared that this may not be enough to keep the system running. Groen, SP.A, CD&V and Vlaams Belang want to change this, making everyone's contribution dependent on his or her earnings. N-VA and Open VLD would rather leave things as they are. It turns out that 61.6 percent follow the first proposal, with 32 percent being against.
  • Child allowance will become a regional power after the elections. Now, parents get a higher child allowance as they have more children. The allowance for the second child is up on the benefits received for the first child, etc. Groen, SPA. CD&V and Vlaams Belang want to level this difference and propose an equal allowance for each child. The N-VA and Open VLD are against, while this idea has the support of almost 70 percent of the voters.
  • Another big campaign issue is mobility and the eternal traffic jams in Belgium. One proposal is to introduce a "pay-as-you-drive" system. Instead of paying a (fixed) annual road tax, motorists would have to pay for the number of kilometres they cover each year. Groen, CD&V and N-VA support this idea. The Flemings are divided on the matter, with 49.8 percent supporting the idea and 42.4 rejecting it. Another hot potato is whether bus and tram lines that only carry a small number of passengers should be kept.  Groen, CD&V and SP.A support this. 72.3 percent are behind the idea, while only 18 percent is against.