Progressive cartel falters in Ghent. Liberals favour broad coalition.

In the fair city of Ghent the green-socialist alliance is on course for significant losses (down 12%), while the liberal coalition partners made big gains (up 10% to 26%). An incident involving a suspect white powder that was in contact with ballot papers means the counting process was delayed.

The green-socialist alliance drops from 45.5% to around 33%.  Losses for the Flemish nationalist N-VA too, from 17% to 13.5%.  The Christian democrats make slight gains with more significant gains for the far right Vlaams Belang.  The Communist PVDA picks up 7.8% of the vote.

Speculation is mounting that this result will lead to a centre-right coalition, though the outgoing coalition still possesses a sizeable majority. The Christian democrats are prepared to administer the city with the liberals and Flemish nationalists, but say a reformed circulation plan will be needed.  Diversity issues too will have to be discussed with the nationalists.

Addressing supporters the liberals' Mathias De Clercq spoke of an historic result that would give the city its first liberal mayor in 60 years.  Mr De Clercq hopes to form a broad, progressive administration and invited all parties to help to achieve this.

The nationalists of N-VA appealed to the liberals' Mathias De Clercq to dump his socialist/green coalition partner and form a new coalition with him as mayor.

One, decisive council seat still hangs in the balance that could upset this scenario.

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