Big gains for liberals in Ostend, socialists remain biggest party

 

In the seaside resort of Ostend (West Flanders) there are heavy losses for the socialists that remain the largest party on the local council.  But outgoing Mayor Johan Vande Lanotte won his battle with the liberals’ Bart Tommelein, the current Flemish finance minister, to remain biggest party.

Mr Tommelein's liberals make big gains but fail to overtake the socialists that fielded an open or city list with non-socialist candidates.

Socialists, liberals and Christian democrats formed the outgoing administration in Ostend and if Mr Vande Lanotte and Mr Tommelein manage to sort out their differences after a fractious campaign could continue to run Ostend.

Opposition party N-VA (Flemish nationalist) failed to make any inroads against the outgoing coalition.  The carefully staged dual between Mr Vande Lanotte and Mr Tommelein seems to have sucked in votes with the nationalists incurring significant losses of 6%.  The greens and in particular the far right Vlaams Belang increased their score out West. 

Outgoing Mayor Vande Lanotte indicated that a socialist/liberal/green coalition was on the cards, but Bart Tommelein is not at all enthusiastic.  Mr Tommelein favours a coalition of winners, with liberals, nationalists and greens.

Mr Tommelein is eager to head a four party coalition of liberals, Flemish nationalists, greens and Christian democrats.  The socialists have already dubbed this the "monster coalition".  The greens' Wouter De Vriendt is not enthusiastic either: he favours a coalition with the liberals and the socialists.  He believes this can offer stability and renewal. "A four-party coalition, what kind of a project can it put forward?" he wondered.